Wednesday, November 12, 2008

how auckland parked some abandoned buildings

One of the neighborhood parks here in Auckland, New Zealand have done some pretty interesting things with buildings slated for demolition.

In Western Park (Te Rimu Tahi) right off of Ponsonby Road, designers planted the remains of discarded stoic buildings right into the earth.

It's an interesting idea for a park, but also a keen concept for Youngstown, as many beautiful buildings in the Yo have been removed in the past to make space for parking lots or newer structures.

Even though in Youngstown we should preserve in their present location (and illuminate) the facades of some buildings (see Kress Building, State Theater, and Paramount Theater, for examples), there may be an opportunity to recycle other structures for what we see here in New Zealand.

There are other little aspects of this park which we can even use in the redesign of Wick Park.

check out this disposal site for doggy doo:

and this stone mosaic, welcoming visitors at one entrance:

stay tuned for more stories in the future on other examples of urban design in New Zealand.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

nov 11th posting - neighborhood walk from the west side

I like to walk.

A standard of mine is the short 2.5 mile walk through Mill Creek Park and to downtown.

Although the bus runs right past my house and a car ride takes 5 minutes, I can get to the Youngstown Business Incubator and University in just over a half-hour of walking, while enjoying my surroundings.

Here are some highlights along the way:

after eating some pierogies from the Paprika Cafe, a walk down Belle Vista ave.

cutting into the Park...

and looking out from the Fellows Riverside Gardens onto Lake Glacier:

exiting the Park and walking down Mahoning Ave...

and over the Mr. Peanut Bridge:

and along Federal Street...

until we hit ground zero, the Man on the Monument:


Monday, November 10, 2008

the nov 11th project - photoblog your neighborhood

the Nov. 11 project - everyone photoblog about your neighborhood

At a recent Rest Belt Bloggers discussion in Pittsburgh, an idea was sparked to display what our neighborhoods look like, hoping pictures can create connectivity and community, to those residing both inside and outside of the Cleveburgh mega-region.

So Buffalo can see Butler, PA.
So Ashtabula can understand Akron, OH.
So Warren can connect to Wheeling, WV.

On this Tues Nov 11th, a bunch of bloggers across the Rust Belt will be posting their photos, videos, art, etc, to describe their town - their neighborhoods.

Please pass the idea along.

For example, click here for a neighborhood walkthrough I found this morning, by a gent from Fort Wayne who seemed to be just passing through.

note: it's always interesting to see what visitors pick out as photo-worthy.

speaking of the mega-region, Green City Blue Lake live blogged Friday's RLN conference in Youngstown. Check it out here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

design concepts out for Wick Park, 3rd public meeting Nov 15th

Some preliminary designs for adaptations to Wick Park are now online, and the next public meeting to discuss these plans has been set.

This project is a great example of Youngstown's "open source community development" model.

Click here for the main website of the project - for video, presentations, images, discussion, etc.

Chere here for this blog's review of the 2nd meeting.
Click here for a review of the 1st meeting.
Prelim of the project here.

Here is another online document at which contains additional potential design components.

For example, a wooded amphitheater is one concept:

Dog parks, athletic fields, playgrounds and pathways are all to be discussed at the next meeting.

and so the 3rd public discussion meeting is set for:

Saturday, Nov. 15th 2008
10am to 12pm
Park Vista Community Room
(west side of park entrance along 5th)

please rsvp to 742-4040 if coming (area code 330)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

achieving stability, plus redevelopment

Tonight at 4pm in City Hall downtown, a public meeting was held to solicit citizens' opinions on a request being developed by the city on how to spend $2.7 million in federal funding to combat the foreclosure problem.

part one
first, a side note and some history:

In the Housing and Economic Recovery Act passed in July 2008 by Congress, $258 million was allocated to Ohio to help with the housing crisis. The first round of funding from this Act distributed $116 to the state, and Youngstown got $2.7 million.

This was a welcomed, yet disappointing amount to many folks, as cities with smaller populations and smaller foreclosure rates received more money than Youngstown.

For example, Columbus with a foreclosure rate of 6.9% albeit a larger population, received $22 million.

Canton, with a smaller foreclosure rate of 12.3% and a smaller population than the Yo, received $3.6 million.

But to re-center the discussion - Youngstown's foreclosure rate of 14.7%, the highest of any city in Ohio, received $2.7 million.

More on this imbalance to come.

The issue now at hand is how to spend the $2.7 million.

part two

some maps to observe.

The first is of the houses slated for demolition in the city of Youngstown:

The second is of the 1,044 houses foreclosed by banks in all of 2007 to July 2008:

Some quick stats:
- the median housing value in the city of Youngstown is $40,900
- 54.6% of the mortgage loans from 04-06 in the city were subprime
- 22.6% of mortgages in the state of Ohio in that time were subprime
- the foreclosure rate in Youngstown is 14.7%
- the foreclosure rate in Ohio is 6.2%
- 351 structures were demolished by the city in 2006
- 474 structures were demolished by the city in 2007

part three

Using these maps and this information, the draft plan on how to spend the $2.7 million is now online. From November 6th through November 20th, comments will be accepted at:
NSPComments (at) cityofyoungstownoh (dot) com

These tracts in purple then, using the quidelines of the federal government, have been identified as targeted areas for the $2.7 million:

Interesting to note though by reading the draft plan, how components of the Youngstown 2010 Plan were used to assist these funding decisions. It's also important to recognize this draft plan is only for suggesting how a chuck of funds from the feds is spent for this unique and specific component. Purple does not identify "important" vs. "non-important" sections of the city.

But it is cool to see how planning tools and information can help to make strategic decisions.

part four

finally, a timely opinion piece on a somewhat related topic.

note: I am not trying to draw any conclusions about parts one to three vs. part four. This post is simply a way to aggregate information and 3rd party opinions.

A recent article published by Charles Buki at the Planetizen blog on Oct. 30th titled "The Work of Neighborhood Stabilization" has been getting a lot of attention.

He contends the standard response to community development has been to put resources in (1) communities hurting the most, or (2) spreading a little bit of assistance everywhere.

Buki believes these are the wrong approaches.

The question he states should not be where is the area of greatest need, but which area has the greatest chance of success?

Using that strategy, middle market neighborhoods still with signs of strength and assets that are marketable with minor improvements should be targeted first for assistance. These are the tipping point neighborhoods.

so simply put, what do you think of the Buki approach?

Should we:
target the tippers;
spread the resources;
or invest only where problems are worst?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

the superior candidate for youngstown

what does the Tech Belt Initiative want to be when it grows up?

Chris over at NullSpace comments on the recent real estate news of Howard Hanna (of Pittsburgh) purchasing Reality One (of Cleveland) - giving it a 40% share of the Cleveland market.

This builds on the other bit of recent news in October with PNC (of Pittsburgh) purchasing National City (of Cleveland), the latter being the largest bank in the state of Ohio.

In many ways, the interdependence and the collective consciousness of a combined Northeast Ohio and Southwestern Pennsylvania is strengthening.

And so the website of the [Cleveland-Akron-Youngstown-Pittsburgh] TechBelt Initiative is now up at, with a brief 8 page overview of the plan here. Check out the goals, check out the aggregate funding and population levels, and check out the challenges that this mega-region collectively faces.

But after checking out the paper, I keep thinking: What does the Tech Belt Initiative want to be when it grows up?

A membership-based networking organization?

A marketing campaign?

A funding agent?

A lobbying group?

The goals in the brief paper may align the future of the Tech Belt to several of these options.

But if you want to learn more on this project, check out the 2nd Cleveland+Pittsburgh+Youngstown Regional Learning Network meeting to be held this Friday all day at the Youngstown Club. (details on C+P+Y here)


BONUS: Time Magazine's video of Youngstown here on the election, featuring a few local bloggers. The Wall Street Journal's month-long blog (talk about embedded) on undecided Youngstown voters concludes here. (ps. Much thanks to the featured Joe Sullivan, a kind soul who taught me how to juggle 14 years ago) and finally, Mayor Williams lays out his argument on who to vote for in the Presidential election in his blog, here.

The top priority of an Obama-Biden administration will be to get our economy moving again, not only on Wall Street but on Market Street, Federal Street, Belmont, Oak Street, and Salt Springs Road, here in Youngstown. Barack Obama knows that the single greatest strength of our nation is our creativity and our determination in the face of adversity.

Sen. Obama promises to invest in the skills and ingenuity of Americans by promoting "innovation clusters" – regional centers of innovation and next-generation industries. This is a concept on which I am working closely with Congressman Tim Ryan. To his great credit, Sen. Obama is building off a policy that has already shown tremendous success in cities across the country.

I have seen that success up-close. The Youngstown Business Incubator has helped turn our city into a national hub for business-to-business software. Companies within the Youngstown Business Incubator have been awarded 16 intellectual property patents, developed 19 new commercial software applications, created over 170 new jobs, recruited customers in 44 foreign countries, translated their products and support materials into 8 languages, and won the prestigious Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year award. We are already training entrepreneurs and other young people to get them good jobs in this emerging industry.

I can cite examples of other companies in Youngstown such as FireLine, City Machine Technologies, M-7 Technologies, Brilex, Exal and, Northern States Metals, just to name a few, that have figured out how to excel in a global market place. These are models of “next generation” companies that will help to define the economy of the City of Youngstown, the Mahoning Valley, and even the State of Ohio. These are the type of companies, amongst others, that we will continue to work with to help ensure they benefit from an Obama/Biden economic policy.