YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Friday afternoon, over a short two block stretch of Elm Street between Madison and Park avenues in Youngstown, men were on ladders, sidewalks were being cleaned and crosswalks created with duct tape, all in preparation for the weekend’s unveiling of a new group, North of Madison Avenue Association, or NOMA.
NOMA was formed to identify the specific area, as well as those who are involved in building up and promoting the neighborhood.
“We’re really trying to identify this as a destination of places to eat and shop on the North Side,” said NOMA Organizer Melissa Miller.
Miller works for the Commonwealth Kitchen Incubator, which has taken the lead in creating NOMA. The signs on the houses and buildings in the area — NOMA hardware, wellness center, the local fare restaurant signs — they are promoting fake businesses, with the hope that someday they will be filled.
“I tried to pin people down on exactly what the objectives of NOMA were. I was told it was a loose group; it was just starting out, so a lot of different things can happen. What they needed was a brand, and what they came up with was North of Madison Avenue.
NOMA will focus on a square mile north of Madison Avenue — Wick Avenue and Logan Way to Saranac Avenue, and Redondo Road to Belmont Avenue and back to Madison.
Rodd Coonce is an anchor of the neighborhood, having run Dorian Books and Full Circle Florist for the past 16 years. Coonce said he is invested in the area, and he is hoping that others will as well.
“Those of us who have invested in the area, that are pioneers in the area, are hoping to say let’s turn that around now and make this into a viable part of town,” he said. “With the university being our neighbor right across the street, there’s no reason for it not to be.”
Miller said many of the homes in the neighborhood were boarded up just 30 days ago. Now, they are seeing life.
“Now the windows are open, house fronts have been painted, people are painting the fronts of their stores, getting new signs,” she said. “It’s really exciting, energizing and invigorating.”