Originally built in 1870 along on of the most iconic railroad corridors in the region, 365 E Boardman was once the center of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley’s roaring manufacturing and steel economy. Originally owned by The Forsythe Scale Company, the building was constructed to accommodate heavy manufacturing where raw materials were imported / exported throughout the building to support the forging of metals into various forms of machinery, most prominently several ton scales.
According to the Sanborn maps, the Forsythe Scale works expanded their operations to the Youngstown Stamping Works in 1889. By 1896, the property was labeled as vacant. In 1907, it appears the property was reopened with similar heavy manufacturing uses under the name of the “Youngstown Foundry and Machine Company.” This owner appears to have continued to operate the property as a foundry and machine shop from 1907 – 1968.
In 1973, Wean United Inc took ownership of the property, and most suspect that this was a strategic acquisition for the previous business to fit under their umbrella of manufacturing.
In 1977, the building is listed as vacant, which reflects the early-stage decline of industrial manufacturing across the region. In 1986, the Northeast Fabricators LLC & Winkle JB Company assumed ownership, and operated as a metal fabrication shop until 2017.
Since then, the building was mostly vacant until it was acquired by Derrick McDowell, a born and raised Youngstown resident who is also the owner of the Youngstown Flea. The Youngstown Flea’s presence automatically drives new traffic to this building, and Derrick has a vision to transform the building into the epicenter for small business incubation and a community destination for gathering.
The building originally constructed in 1870 and is one of the only remaining historic factory spaces in the Mahoning Valley left from this period of Youngstown’s industrial era, and the community and local economic development groups prefer to see the redevelopment plan maintain historical integrity.
Given its manufacturing history, the site was also established as the epicenter of rail and riverfront transit with the adjacency of Canal Street to provide a direct connection to the Mahoning River over the extensive rail lines that also flanked this particular property. As a result, of this economic activity, the surrounding East Side of Youngstown was once filled with several ethnic backgrounds who wanted to live near their workplace in the mills.
Unfortunately, as steel and heavy manufacturing began to decline in Youngstown, the East Side’s vibrancy also began to decline. Boardman Street runs from the East Side into the part of downtown, but much of the East Side neighborhood’s pedestrian and vehicular traffic is literally cut off from Youngstown’s central business district by a full city block of a postal service distribution center, which divides Boardman into two segments. This has caused much of the property surrounding the postal distribution center and the properties surrounding 365 E Boardman to become vacant lots.
In December of 2021, the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments’ created a regional plan for the reclamation and redevelopment of the Mahoning River. The Mahoning River Corridor Plan focuses on ecological improvements, restoration efforts, expands recreational amenities, and enhances economic development opportunities regionally, which span 13 communities.
According to some of the proposed maps in this plan, the 365 E Boardman property screams to serve as THE PRIMARY ACCESS POINT for the broader community to experience and access the beauty of the Mahoning River redevelopment. The timing of the Mahoning River Redevelopment plan to the Youngstown Flea’s acquisition of the property couldn’t be more perfect.
Given the adjacency of the property to the proposed regional Mahoning River reclamation and redevelopment, Derrick envisions this building will become THE ANCHOR for the community to begin to heal the industrial and social injustices that taken place over the last several decades in the City of Youngstown, and more specifically the East Side.
Derrick states the vision of this building best –
“365 E Boardman will become a place where people advocate for the new and novice small business owner and incubate the pursuit of their dreams. The possibilities for progress are unlocked when people are given access to economic, engine-like opportunities to launch their new business. The redevelopment will exclusively aim to uplift traditionally under-served communities, and become the destination for the greater good for the City of Youngstown.”
This will be accomplished in several ways:
We will connect (via an addition) and convert what was once a dilapidated and forgotten about foundry and heavy manufacturing spaces, into an amazing maker space, arts and cultural community epicenter. This will be filled with mission-driven shops and eateries – all surrounded by a clean, restored building shell filled with a healthy abundance of natural light and air.
It will be a cool communal place, filled with the irreplaceable industrial, the rustic, and things remembered. There will be plethora of upbeat vibes — anchored by exciting art, murals, a Market for Makers, music, and events for all around.
Authenticity, Diversity, Development Equity & Community Connectivity. We will invigorate and foster a thriving minority-owned business community throughout Youngstown by managing our decisions and development in such a way that it ensures we do not overshoot our intended audience. We must meet Youngstown’s traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations, where they are, and invite them along as key participants in our growth and our intended impact.
It will be a family-friendly environment, focused with lots of indoor/outdoor areas to lounge and lure in the riverfront views.
It will serve as transportation hub, as suggested in the Riverfront Redevelopment Strategy where hikes and bikes, kayaks, scooters, cars and pedestrians will gather.
We will empower Local Entrepreneurs through Education and Business Skill Training to become successful business owners and thereby create generational change. This will be possible because the building will house the region’s first non-profit, which will be one of the primary future tenants of this redevelopment.
After acquiring the building, Derrick commissioned a Phase 1, Phase 2, and Hazardous Materials Survey to determine the extent of any pollution from a heavy manufacturing use over the past several years. Unfortunately, the reports revealed the need for extensive remediation and partnered with Tipping Point to establish a path to execute it, as well as an overall redevelopment strategy to realize the vision.
On behalf of the owner, our team coordinated a historic consultant, licensed architect, environmental engineers, environmental contractor, and a general contractor to develop a core and shell remediation and rehabilitation strategy. Our first objective was to establish an estimated development budget so that we could author a capital strategy to support its execution.
The cost for full redevelopment is projected to be $13,000,000, with $3.2 million dedicated to the clean up of hazardous materials, and $2.2 million to replace the buildings’ exterior, historic windows.
Once the costs were documented by the construction and environmental contractors, Tipping Point collaborate with Derrick to author a $2.4 million State of Ohio Brownfield Remediation Grant, which also includes a 25% owner match of $800,000.
We are currently collaborating with the owner and architect to integrate the transit, riverfront access, and community-driven goals to author a financial model that will sustain the project operational expenses of the building.
Since the building will house a melting pot of community-driven uses, Tipping Point will design a capital stack with local, state and federal financial sources that best supports the desired owner outcomes. These will also include state and federal historic tax credits given the owner and community’s desire to preserve one of the last remaining historic manufacturing buildings in Youngstown.