YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Last month, the Mahoning Valley Historical Society gave Joe Pedaline its Board of Director’s Award of Achievement, calling him a “non-traditional preservationist” for his work in saving historic houses in one northside neighborhood in Youngstown.
The Prepped Wellness Cafe on Elm Street in Youngstown houses the restaurant that was the first commercial building Pedaline owned.
“Because it was close to the university, and I was paying $4,000 for a building,” he said.
In the heart of Youngstown’s north side, on the corner of Ohio and Lora avenues, there is a cluster of 10 homes he also once owned, all of which are around 100 years old.
“So, by controlling the neighborhood, I controlled the tenants,” Pedaline said.
He had bought them all.
One of the first buildings Pedaline bought was the Lora building, which in its day he says housed business executives. Once he started buying, he kept going with the adjacent houses, some of which are 5,000 square feet.
He paid from $3,400 to $20,000 per house.
“Well, I started there, and when that was finished, the tenants would say, you know, they’re doing crack there, and I’d go to the landlord and say, ‘Hey, you either clean it up or sell it,’ and of course they sold it in a second,” Pedaline said.
He painted some of the houses in pastels — greens and pinks — to let people know they were no longer crack houses. He’s also stood and watched as houses were demolished on the north side.
“At the time, I was for it, but now I’m ready for a referendum on let’s not. We’re down to a sustainable amount of people for the amount of housing, and now it’s time to preserve everyone that’s left,” Pedaline said.
For a while, Pedaline was also part-owner of the B&O Station. Now, the only property he owns is a warehouse on the lower west side that he rents to artists. All the houses that he bought he has sold.
“When you stand here and look at these, are you a little proud you helped save them?” First News Reporter Stan Boney asked him.
“Oh yeah. I mean, this is my heart and soul into this, you know,” Pedaline said.
Though most of Pedaline’s investments have been on the north side, he lives on the east side. As far as the award from the historical society, he says it’s nice to get credit for his accomplishments.