YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A year and a half after the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) bought the Foster Theater, YNDC now has a plan for the building.
It’ll be mostly apartments with some retail space out front. The building has good bones — it’s solid. But to do what YNDC wants to be done will cost over $1 million.
Ian Beniston, YNDC’s executive director, explained the plans for revitalizing Glenwood Avenue’s Foster Theater.
“We’re going to restore this. There will actually be two commercial spaces on each side and we’ll populate them with small businesses,” he said.
Inside, the Foster’s original Terrazzo lobby floor remains intact. It’ll be cleaned and saved. Five hundred of the original seats also remain, though, they will be removed.
“Our intention with the actual theater hall… will be to have apartments located in the actual theater space. So, leveling the floor out, possibly adding a second floor. There are all sorts of adjustments we will need to make,” Beniston said.
Beniston is thinking of at least four apartments, all of which will have separate outside entrances. But most of the indicators that it was a movie theater, including the screen that’s still there and the projectors on the second floor, will be removed. The historic aspects of the Foster, however, will remain.
“Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, we will attempt to maintain as much of the character of the building as possible,” Beniston said.
The marquee out front will be relit, which will add to YNDC’s priority revitalization effort of the Glenwood Avenue corridor. This year alone, it has brought a dozen businesses to Glenwood. Its offices are seven blocks from the Foster. It has helped revitalize the adjacent Idora neighborhood. Plus, Mill Creek Park is within walking distance.
“There’s really incredible assets right here in this part of the city. We think things have been sleeping on them for a long time, so it’s just kind of activating all that,” Beniston said.
YNDC has already secured a couple of grants, applied for others and on Wednesday, Youngstown City Council is expected to approve $100,000 of American Rescue Plan money for the Foster project.
If all goes as planned, the transformation of the Foster Theater into apartments should begin next fall.