Downtown Youngstown, OH- a struggling downtown that has made great strides towards remaking itself

Downtown Youngstown is a historically well built center for a once thriving mid-sized American City. The skyline is filled with wonderful mid-sized early 20th century towers cladded in gorgeous detailing. But one will notice that no modern high-rises grace their presence  here. This is due to the economic collapse that afflicted Youngstown in the 1970s and 1980s. Dwtn Youngstown like many other American cities also experienced competition from suburban malls. City leaders tried to combat this through creating a pedestrian mall along Federal Street, its largest retail center. Unfortunately this backfired and helped fueled high vacancies.

The early 2000s brought renewed efforts from civic leaders to revitalized Dwtn. They first re-opened Federal Street, built a new sport’s arena, and began investing in the renovation of their vast supply of underutilized historic towners into new office space and apartments.

I wouldn’t call Dwtn Youngstown vibrant, but the revitalization efforts of the past two decades have certainly removed the worse blight and decline and stabilized Dwtn. Current efforts are to improve the streetscaping, make Dwtn more multi-model, and better connect it to Youngstown State. The new Riverfront Park and Amphitheater was also a great addition to Dwtn as there were almost no park/plaza spaces Dwtn previously. 
Click here to view my Downtown Youngstown Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* Great historic architecture.
* Generally good ADA and sidewalk infrastructure but some crumbling sidewalks on the edges of Dwtn and curb cuts not up to date with ADA.
* No great public transit. Ok within Dwtn and YSU but mediocre ant best even in Youngstown’s inner city neighborhoods.
* Great racial diversity.
* Large student population attending within or close to Dwtn. 12K students attend YSU just north of Dwtn and a couple thousand more at Eastern Gateway Comm. College.
* While no modern towers are here, Dwtn Youngstown has a decent skyline composed to consisted mid-sized 1900-1930s towers.
* While there are a fair about of parking lots dwtn, especially along the edges, solid urban from along Federal and Wick/ Market.
* Very challenging to understanding the # of jobs in Dwtn Youngstown. My sense is that its a decent # (say 25-40K) but still riddled with high vacancy and low lease rates. Positive momentum seems to be  bldg. though.
* Good amenities Dwtn including a sports arena, good amount of restaurants, bars, & cafes, the DeYor Performing Arts Center, the outdoor amphitheater at the Riverfront Park,  several nice museums, a Dwtn post office and library.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Bike infrastructure is very limited within the City and most of the Metro. Best bike trail in the City is in Mill’s Creek. Some larger trails in the metro.
* Very high poverty rate but some diversity with new market rate propping up.
* Really not family households in Dwtn but some adult age diversity.
* Some decent rentals but housing product is very limited especially for sale (condos).
* The large sidewalks and blvd square at Market and Federal is the only park or plaza space in Dwtn Youngstown. Very surprising.
* Dwtn is a bit rough on the edges with a fair amount of homeless but its generally safe.
* Youngstown Early College School is a solid college prep option just north of Dwtn. Some elementary schools abouts 1 mile south of Dwtn. Not much else.
* Some decent new apartments on the north edge of Dwtn next to YSU, but not modern high-rises.
* Pretty dead during off work hours, especially outside of Federal Street.
* Park space had been limited to just the small plaza at Federal & Wick for a long time. Fortunately the expansive Riverfront and amphitheater were recently constructed. This also functions as Youngtown’s civic heart even though its not a plaza space.
* No Convention Center Downtown and limited sport facilities.
* Some dwtn retail including the 20 Federal Place mall, several boutiques, and some locally owned creative retail. No supermarket nor pharmacy however. 

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