YSU aiming for curb appeal

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An eyesore on the Youngstown State University campus is coming down.

Crews are demolishing the old Rayen Building at the corner of Rayen Avenue and Elm Street. Through the years, it was home to a number of businesses like Pogo’s and Ernie McDougal’s.

YSU bought the building, but could not re-purpose it. The university had to tear down the building because of safety concerns, but it is also part of revitalizing the campus.

In the last 20 years, YSU has purchased 20 to 30 properties, including homes and commercial buildings. Some are used for parking and others are used for storage.

“We purchased what is now our police station, which was the old Red Cross building, so some of the commercial properties we buy, we do use for an ongoing business purpose. Others are just eyesores, like the old Ernie McDougal’s, and we just had to get it down,” YSU Facilities and Support Services Director John Hyden said.

He said there were stone and brick pieces falling off onto the adjacent building from the Rayen Building. It will be replaced by parking spaces and green space.

“We want the campus to look good,” Hyden said.

And students have noticed the beautification efforts.

“I really love what they did to the president’s house over there. I am happy that they have that veterans site,” student Darnelle Clark said.

Phil Kidd is a Youngstown transplant and went to YSU in the late 1990s.

“Sometimes it’s hard to put it all in perspective because you are here all the time and you just forget about how much change has happened,” Kidd said.

He described how things looked when he was a student.

“Vacant, semi-industrial buildings, that just kind of created a no man’s land for a few blocks,” Kidd said.

Hyden said YSU is unique because it is a true urban school.

“Ohio State is in Columbus, but it’s a city of its own. Kent State is spread out all over Portage County. We’re very tight and compact,” Hyden said.

Having a working relationship with the city of Youngstown is a big part of campus improvements. Downtown Youngstown is going through its own rebirth.

“A more thriving downtown is only going to help the university when they’re trying to attract students,” Kidd said.

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