Grants help raze Warren properties
WARREN — The city is spending $115,778 in Community Development Block Grant funds to demolish 11 commercial buildings that have been empty and abandoned for many years.
Many of the properties being taken down are along the city’s main corridors.
“These properties were eyesores,” Mayor Doug Franklin said. “This is part of a strategy to improve high traffic corridors of the city and encourage development.”
Over the next two years, there will be $4 million spent to do a total reconstruction of Youngstown Road, including the resurfacing and repair of the street, sidewalks and curbs.
“It’s about revitalization of an area that’s in desperate need of it but has tremendous investment and economic development potential,” Franklin said.
The funds being used to pay for the demolitions are a combination of block grants previously set aside for demolitions and grant funds originally geared for other projects, but not used, said Lori Lemaster, grants coordinator with Warren’s Community Development department.
M & M Excavating won the bid to tear down eight of the commercial sites at a total cost of $93,278. Siegel Excavating won the bid to demolish the remaining three properties.
The properties demolished on Youngstown Road SE on Tuesday included 2410, 2414 and 2416 Youngstown Road SE. The latter was the former Charlies Beer & Wine.
Chris Tanneyhill, a Warren Building Department inspector, said the Youngstown Road properties have been empty since 2012.
Matt Martin, executive director of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, said this use of CDBG funds complements what his agency already is doing in tearing down residential properties.
“I think it is a good use of city funds,” Martin said.
This is the first time in nearly a year and a half the city has used its own funds to demolish commercial buildings.
“We have had success in getting some property owners to demolish their own buildings,” Franklin said.
The former Hardees / Coffee Cup on Parkman Road, Austin Village Plaza on West Market Street and the Wedgewood Apartments, all commercial buildings, were demolished in 2015 by the owners of the properties.
The city had the former Garden Apartments, 808 Garden St. NW, demolished by Priority Excavating Service in January 2016, also using CDBG funds.
John VonMoos, who has lived in Warren for more than 62 years, and watched as the Youngstown Road properties came down, said the demolition of the commercial buildings is in some ways a disappointment, but also is a sign of progress.
“I would have preferred if a business had filled the buildings,” he said. “However, I’m glad something is being done to improve the area.”