Program to seize blighted Youngstown properties a success

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – It’s been two years since Youngstown first started using new laws to take over abandoned properties through a program called spot blight eminent domain.

The program has worked, for example, on a house on Glenwood Avenue that was dilapidated. Youngstown City Council took control from out-of-town owners, seized the property and turned it over to the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC).

YNDC spent a year fixing everything from the roof to the foundation, and it’s now on the market.

“I was concerned about this whole project, but I’m really pleased with the overall outcome,” said Councilwoman Anita Davis, 6th Ward.

Tiffany Sokol, with YNDC, says the law worked well in this case.

“It is certainly another opportunity for us to acquire vacant and blighted properties that are in the cycle of abandonment” Sokol said.

Youngstown Mayor John McNally says the city has used the Spot-Blight Eminent Domain program four or five times and it has worked successfully in each case.

Not all eminent domain houses are rehabbed. Some are torn down, and then the empty lot is turned over to neighbors.

The other high-profile property is the Bell Park building on Belmont Avenue. That one won’t’ be repaired but will be demolished to create a green space in the Belmont corridor.

Council declared the Bel Park building a Spot-Blight property but the owner is now working with the city to turn it over voluntarily.