YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Phelps Street has become an attraction for people who want to bounce from restaurants and bars in downtown Youngstown.
They closed down the street, hung lights and provided seating. The success of the strip is still a work in progress.
“Absolutely, it’s bringing a lot of people down here,” said downtown patrons Chris Higgins and Kathy McMichael.
Friday night, people were eating on patios or having drinks before heading down to the amphitheater.
For businesses along Phelps Street, it’s brought in more customers — one business even modeled their restaurant with the corridor in mind.
“We knew Phelps was going to be shut down and be a walkway – let’s utilize it. The clientele that comes in, they love it, especially with our doors that open up on Phelps. It’s helped our business tremendously,” said West 34 owners Chris Davis and Richard Kaszowski.
But the gateway isn’t coming without a learning curve.
“I think it’s been a success but I think it could use a lot more improvements,” said councilman Julius Oliver.
He said they need to find a way to keep it clean.
“You shouldn’t be leaving cigarette butts all over the place, I would just like to see people take more pride in what’s there to be something that should be enjoyed by everybody,” Oliver said.
We saw several cigarette butts and tomatoes dropped on the ground, but no big trash. Business owners admit sweeping up after a busy weekend isn’t easy.
“It’s a big street, so there’s going to be a lot of people coming down this street, there’s going to be a lot of garbage. Yes, it takes a long time to clean it for us that go home at 2-3 o’clock in the morning, it’s really hard to keep up,” said Gringos Tacos co-owner Jorge Carreno.
It sounds like turning the corridor into something long-lasting is going to take the work of both the city and the businesses.
“The more involved the city is on it the better results we’re going to get from everybody else,” Carreno said.
“I think that the business owners, particularly the ones along Phelps Street, should get together and form a vision for it for what they see for Phelps Street,” Oliver said.
But while they work out the kinks – the patrons seem to enjoy the street.
“I’ve seen a change, I worked down here in the 90s and it’s amazing,” Higgins said.
“I think that Phelps is going to be the main attraction,” Carreno said.
While it’s been crowded on the street late at night, bars said it hasn’t been a problem for them so far and most people are waiting in line to get in or talking with people on the patios.
Late at night and on the weekends there is always a police presence on Phelps.
Carreno said he’d like to see even more of that, with possible security, especially after last week’s shooting downtown, he said he wants to create the right atmosphere and for his customers to feel safe.