Downtown Youngstown evolving into destination
Downtown Youngstown is in the middle of a very noticeable shift, with the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre as the latest step along the way.
It's a process, but Youngstown is trying to re-invent itself as a true destination.
There's a new soundtrack for the city of Youngstown, everywhere you look. It's come in waves; from the DoubleTree to the Amphitheatre and beyond, the pieces are falling into place.
"I truly believe Youngstown is moving in the right direction, moving forward, and that's what we are going to have to make sure: all the pieces that are there, we bring them together and everyone can start seeing the puzzle come together," said Youngstown mayor Tito Brown.
The Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre's the latest, most visible piece to that puzzle, but there are many others. The upcoming Phelps Street project is scheduled to be complete next spring, making the stretch between Commerce and Federal a pedestrian only area.
Christian Rinehart's opened two restaurants in that block and he's eyeing a third spot.
"There's two more things going in on this street that haven't been announced yet. One, I hope, is us. The other one is going to be another restaurant that is already in town," said Rinehart.
A block away, the DoubleTree hotel is still playing a big role in all this.
Mark Canzonetta's Bistro 1907 opened a little more than a year ago inside the hotel building and he too is planning another restaurant downtown, Wahaka, specializing in Mexican street food and scheduled to open next spring.
"We're going to kick it off with a food truck at the amphitheatre," said Canzonetta, who says he would ideally like to open three restaurants in the city. "So we're going to be doing some of the amphitheatre events and one event over at the Covelli Centre with our Wahaka taco truck."
They're all pieces in a much larger puzzle. They're not all big pieces like the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre; some of them are kind of small, like the new signage around town. This one in particular, though, is part of Youngstown taking that next step and being more welcoming to someone who hasn't been here for a while.
"What they're expecting is what they felt about Youngstown ten years ago and this is not that Youngstown anymore," said Canzonetta.
"Downtown, parking, places to go. It's not what it used to be," said mayor Brown. "I believe we need to raise the level of expectation for the city of Youngstown."
This isn't where they're stopping, either. The park-like setting under the Market Street bridge should be done later this summer and eventually mayor Brown wants to incorporate the Mahoning River in some capacity.
So listen to the music. There are notes of change echoing throughout the city.