YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An east side Youngstown neighborhood that was filled with small businesses, homes, and a Catholic church for about 150 years is now being transformed into a high-tech center.
The landscape of a four-block area between Himrod Avenue and Oak Street in Youngstown has changed. The land on the east side has been cleared to make room for the new Chill-Can plant.
Just seven months ago, it was a neighborhood. Now, where houses and trees once stood, there’s an unobstructed view of downtown.
John Pannunzio, president of concrete contracting business Parella-Pannunzio, Inc., is just happy to do his part. His grandmother used to live up the street.
“It’s amazing that I’m involved with this. I used to ride a bicycle up here as a young kid,” Pannunzio said.
Mitchell Joseph, CEO of The Joseph Company — which runs Chill-Can, said the east side is definitely going to change, but for the better.
Joseph’s family once ran Star Bottling Company on this very same land. While they were digging, crews found a Star Brand bottle dating back a hundred years.
“We were surprised and excited. We knew this was going to have a lot of meaning to Mitchell,” Pannunzio said.
Along with footers being poured, stakes outline where the first building will go. The original plans include four buildings.
“In fact, there’s so much property here that we’re going to add two more buildings, so there will be six production buildings instead of four, and still have an east coast corporate headquarters,” Joseph said.
Along North Lane Avenue where the property dropped off, 14 feet of dirt was added to support one of the buildings.
New Hope Baptist Church is just around the corner. Pastor Kevin Crum said the new plant could be the catalyst for more development.
“I am so excited to see industries moving back. Not just to Youngstown, but to the east side of Youngstown. It’s been so long and I think the whole community is excited about it.”
By July, the first building should have a roof and the plan is to have Chill-Cans being made by the first or second quarter of next year. When it’s all done, there should be 250 new jobs.