OHIO CITY, Ohio — Officials in Ohio City are expanding an initiative to revitalize and beautify their community and keep it safer.
It's all funded by local business and property owners.
They say this program has helped to change the perception of Ohio City.
Since it started eight years ago, the 34 percent commercial vacancy rate has shrunk to just under two percent.
“We get emails all the time from people having really positive experiences in the neighborhood,” Ashley Shaw, Director of Neighborhood Planning and Economic Development for Ohio City, Inc. said.
That’s thanks to Ohio City’s Special Improvement District.
Since 2012, it has provided cleaning and safety programs in the city, mostly through its six “clean and safe” ambassadors.
“They clean up trash, graffiti, they also provide safety patrols, so they’re additional eyes on the street— they’ll provide safety escorts to visitors or employees or residents in the area,” Shaw said.
Next year you could see more ambassadors.
The district is expanding with the number of ambassadors expected to double.
Their patrol zone growing beyond West 25th Street and encompassing all of Ohio City’s commercial area.
“It's going to take all of the excitement and development and energy that we see now very concentrated on West 25th and its going to kind of embrace the entire neighborhood on both sides – Detroit and Lorain,” Sam McNulty, an Ohio City property owner said.
It's safe to say other local property owners feel the same as McNulty.
They fund the program through bi-annual payments based on their property taxes and any expansions have to go through them.
“When we looked at expanding to the new area, a lot of the property owners saw the value in having these services where they exist currently and asking us to bring these services to other areas of the neighborhood,” Shaw said.
“Its like having a whole team of goodwill ambassadors, just friendly faces that know the lay of the land,” McNulty said.
The expansion also includes more sidewalk snow removal services, public art, and safety programs.
The phase is set to start in 2020 and end in 2024.