It's the same vision that's needed in terms of neighborhood development.
We can take a step back and see where the institutional investments are currently being made, see who is putting the sweat equity into housing, and see where the commercial infrastructure remains for future growth.
And going through this process, the Garden District on Youngstown's west side emerges as a place of choice.
People are choosing Youngstown and its Garden District, but the critical mass is not there quite yet.
We need to build that critical mass.
Let's all move into the Garden District.
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But first, where is the Garden District?
It's the closest residential neighborhood on the west side to downtown, on the other side of the Frank Sinkwich bridge from the artist/light industrial area of the Mahoning Commons. The Garden District is nestled on three sides by well-manicured greenspace: Mill Creek Park to the south, Calvary Cemetery to the west, and Fellows Riverside Gardens (big flickr presence here) to the east. The commercial strip of Mahoning Avenue is its northern boundary.
It was the first neighborhood to go through the Youngstown 2010 individual neighborhood planning process, and you can access that plan here.
The Garden District Neighborhood Group meets regularly (meeting and contact info here), and just received a neighborhood success grant from the Wean Foundation for landscaping equipment (to be then shared with the community toolshed) and tree planting in the devil strips.
A comprehensive online photo album of the neighborhood is here.
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Second, what do people like about living in the Garden District?
well, I asked some of them:
from a twenty-something couple:
"When we moved to the Garden District, the reason [we thought] we loved it was because our family lived in Youngstown.
But now, our family is no longer in the area. Today, we know we love Youngstown, but for a different reason. We love our neighbors on our street and the families around us."
from a local architect who moved here from Canton:
"I chose this particular neighborhood because it's so close to the park. I can walk to Fellows Gardens and look out over Lake Glacier. After work, I just get off the bus early and go smell the roses, and walk around the rest of the gardens for a little while."
from a resident engaged in Youngstown's emerging technology cluster:
"I work in the Youngstown Business Incubator [ybi], and I often walk or bike the short commute to my job downtown. In my free time, I can go for a run in Mill Creek Park which I consider (literally) to be my backyard."
I guess my point is, if you are looking to move to Youngstown and like what these people have to say about the neighborhood, consider the Garden District.
This place can really become a hub of in-town living.
Let's review what makes this neighborhood great in the eyes of its residents:
- well-built and affordable housing stock from the 1930s
- connectivity to an abundance of greenspace
- immediacy to a grocery store, post office, two bakeries, restaurants
- Fellows Riverside Gardens is expanding its beauty
- proximity to downtown and YSU
- "urban fabric" density still strong, house after house all there
- all bus routes to the west side and austintown go through
- freeway access in neighborhood to I-680 and all points east and west
- adjacent to the events and classes at Fellows Riverside Gardens
- commercial space available for future use
If you have an interest in living in the neighborhood, these people quoted above are willing to speak with you more in detail about housing prices, reputable contractors, neighborhood groups, etc.
And if you are willing to join the existing Hungarian, Mexican, Irish, and Croatian BBQ restaurants in walking distance of the Garden District, maybe there is some space for your next commercial venture as well.