Bustling to vacant and back again: Hope for an empty Youngstown intersection

The aim of the Hillman and Warren Entrepreneur Project is to act as "a mini business incubator" for new businesses

The intersection of Hillman Street and Warren Avenue on Youngstown's south side.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Over the past 70 years, a Youngstown intersection has gone from bustling, to notorious, to vacant. But there’s a new plan to revitalize the land where Warren Avenue meets Hillman Street.

In the 1950s, the south side intersection was filled with people. In the ’80s, crime was rampant. Today, all four corners are empty lots.

“It had all sides of the spectrum, from property to poverty,”  said Keland Logan, a community advocate.

There’s an effort underway to develop it. Logan was one of ten people who explained the Hillman and Warren Entrepreneur Project Monday afternoon.

“In this case, it’ll be office space and business space,” said Jonathan Bentley, City of Youngstown employee. “So what it’ll be is a mini business incubator.”

There will be two shipping containers per corner — eight in all — and the businesses will operate out of them.A plan to redevelop the intersection of Hillman Street and Warren Avenue on Youngstown's south side.

“It looked like a cheaper avenue to go rather than the entrepreneur moving in an actual store front,” said Youngstown Councilman Julius Oliver.

Bentley said they won’t leave these new businesses out to dry, though.

“They’ll have to go through business training. They’ll have to give a business plan. We’ll help them in finding financing.”

He said as they become more sustainable, the idea is they’ll move into a traditional store front.

Logan has high hopes for the project.

“It’s visibly pleasing so that when people come through, they relax, they feel like spending money, hanging out, having a good time.”

It’s hoped the project can be built for under $100,000. The money would come from grants and by selling sponsorship of the shipping containers.

They’d like to have it running this summer.

Kelan Bilal’s grandmother once lived nearby, so he’s familiar with the area. Today, he owns the Excalibur Barber Grooming Lounge at the Southern Park Mall.

Bilal said it’s an opportunity for the youth.

“I’m trying to groom them to be excellent in life,” he said. “To kind of build themselves into being the kings and the entrepreneurs that they are supposed to be.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Hillman and Warren Entrepreneur Project is invited to attend a meeting Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Community Room at the Covelli Centre.


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