Leaders fighting Warren blight hope new bill could bring old hospital down

Local News

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Closed in 1996, the old St. Joe’s Hospital in Warren — one of the city’s biggest eyesores — could finally be torn down.

Congressman Tim Ryan introduced a bill that would allow federal funding to be used to not only tear down residential properties but commercial properties as well.

“We have a town that is littered with some abandoned commercial properties that absolutely have to go. St. Joe’s Hospital, especially,” said Matt Martin, with Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP).

Martin is hoping the bill sponsored by Congressman Ryan will help clean up blight.

“We do have resources to tear down vacant and abandoned houses but we aren’t able to use that funding for commercial structures,” Martin said.

The Clean Up Our Neighborhoods Act addresses both residential and commercial blight across America. Grants would be made available to communities as long as the state matches 15% of the money.

Shawn Carvin, with the Trumbull County Land Bank, is hoping the hospital can finally be demolished as a result of this bill.

“A lot of these commercial structures are embedded in our neighborhoods. We are also seeing a lot of issues properties — commercial, specifically — in our residential communities. Perfect example would be St. Joe’s,” Carvin said.

Once named just Riverside Hospital, the St. Joe’s Riverside Hospital closed in 1996 after a merger in town. It was ordered closed in 2008 due to a bankruptcy lawsuit.

The now-vacant building is in disrepair and considered dangerous.

“It was one of the first things I heard about ten years ago and it was the first thing I heard about this morning. It is an absolute tragedy for that community and for our entire city. It’s something we have to get rid of,” Martin said.

Ryan hopes his bill will address the nearly 1.3 million vacant homes in America. The abandoned structures account for $777 million in fire-related property losses.

Warren Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said, in part, “We applaud the congressman’s effort, welcome the assistance and stand at the ready to assist with getting that huge eyesore torn down.”

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