YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – If you drive up and down Market Street in Youngstown, you may notice some of the vacant buildings.
We counted around 30, to be more specific.
Although this may be an eyesore to some, this also means there are opportunities for small businesses to move in.
One business manager says it’s up to the city and the community to work together to bring it back to life.
“We need the helping hand; we need that partnership. So if you work on this, then we can help and work on this and both beautify it together,” said Carletta Williams, manager at Pizza-N-Gyro.
Pizza-N-Gyro has been located on Market Street for 10 years. Williams believes more businesses would move into the area if a few things were upgraded.
“The pavement of the streets and the sidewalks is very important. It really detours a lot of people from even using this way of coming down with the sidewalks like this, and the lights,” she said.
One councilman says that Market Street is a state route, so it’s not the city’s responsibility to repave the road. However, he says the city does have plans to revitalize the corridors leading into downtown.
“The same work in the past years that you see that have been going on on South Avenue, on Mahoning Avenue, Fifth Avenue, any of the corridors, like I said, that lead in and out, is the same plan for Market Street,” said First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver.
At one point in history, Market Street was full of shops and life. But many of the buildings that once housed small businesses now sit vacant. Oliver said there is a process that has to be followed when removing those spaces.
“If they aren’t good enough to be revitalized, which a lot of them aren’t, then they have to be torn down. That basically costs the city money. It’s not really good for the taxpayers because then you’re losing a building, rather than revitalizing it,” he said.
However, his hope is that instead of removing these empty spaces, they can be rebuilt.
“Instead of tearing down stuff, let’s put the same money we use to tear it down into fixing it. That way, you make it easier for a small business owner to come in and occupy the space and then tax dollars and employment can start flowing again on Market Street and other places,” Oliver said.
Oliver said the city is actively trying to clean up neighborhoods and main roads and that this year, the state will begin paving Market Street.
Williams believes if more businesses moved onto Market Street, it would also motivate people to become more active in the community.
“I believe it also would stop some of the crime, having things to do and places to go,” Williams said.
WKBN reached out to the city’s Economic Development Department, but an official wasn’t available to talk for this story.