After years of discussion, a project in downtown Youngstown has been approved to move forward.
Wednesday night, Youngstown City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of a complete makeover of a section of a busy road.
The plan is to shut down North Phelps Street between West Commerce and West Federal streets to create a walkway.
“So we can make a pedestrian-friendly walkway that’s inviting to the city of Youngstown and its citizens to come down and enjoy downtown Youngstown in a whole new way,” said Julius Oliver, a Youngstown 1st Ward councilman.
Charles Shasho is the deputy director of public works for Youngstown. He says the downtown area already has a vibrant nightlife, but this new walkway will create economic development through foot traffic and commerce.
“We want to increase the pedestrian flow from Youngstown State University ultimately to the amphitheater site but this is one piece of the puzzle,” he said.
Shasho says they are finishing up the sewer work on North Phelps Street now, and entirely replacing the infrastructure below.
“It’s probably going to look a whole lot worse before it looks better,” Shasho said.
Even with major construction on its way, Christian Rinehart is excited about the project. Rinehart owns Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts on North Phelps Street, along with its next-door neighbor Rhine Haus Bier Hall, which he created with the new pedestrian walkway in mind, putting amp circuits up and down the street.
“It’s gonna end up being a great thing for downtown. It’s gonna give it a very nice, natural meeting space. It will give an indoor-outdoor feel. It will give a walkability to downtown that is already here but will enhance it,” Rinehart said.
Shasho says with council’s approval, they can move forward and make this project happen, hopefully having it completed by fall of 2019.