Al Adi opens up about Youngstown, Ohio homecoming, business plans

“I have a lot of work so I have to keep busy,” said Amer ‘Al’ Adi Othman, who returned to the city after being evicted nearly four years ago.

YOUNGSTOWN – After nearly four years separated from his family and home in the city, Amer “Al” Adi Othman has returned home to Youngstown and is back to work.

Adi once again has his sights set on downtown Youngstown. On Saturday, he announced his plans for the old Pig Iron Press building his family still owns along North Phelps Street in downtown Youngstown.

“I have a lot on my plate so I have to keep busy,” Adi said with a laugh, while speaking to reporters outside the property at 26 N. Phelps St.

Adi said he plans to turn the first floor into a delicatessen and turn the top three floors into apartments. He also plans to create a cigar bar, in keeping with the building’s vintage sign for “well-maintained” cigars from Frankle Bros. Company.

Adi said he had previously discussed his plans with the city’s mayor, Jamael Tito Brown, and intended to contact potential partners for the cigar bar this week, he said. .

Adi bought the 1,530 square foot building in 2016 for $ 56,200, according to Mahoning County Auditor’s records. Its former owner was James Villani, who ran the fine art publishing house Pig Iron Press.

Adi said the family had plans for the building before his eviction “threw us out.” He also still owns another property along Wick Avenue, he said.

Longtime city businessman Adi was unexpectedly evicted in 2018 and returned to the city just a few weeks ago. Prior to his deportation, he lived in the United States for 39 years. He owned Downtown Circle Convenience and Deli and Circle Hookah in that same North Phelps block, until the family sold the businesses soon after his eviction.

On Saturday, supporters joined Adi on the street, including one of his former convenience store workers who shouted, “You’re back!” and opened his arms to hug the man.

Adi said Mahoning questions he is planning a “reunion” for all his neighbors in downtown Youngstown.

Adi’s return a few weeks ago was the first time in nearly four years that his whole family had been reunited again, he said, including his wife Fidaa; four daughters Lina, Rania, Haneen and Lana, all aged 22 to 30; and his grandson Yazan, 1 and a half years old, born after Adi’s deportation.

“Were very happy. We are really having a great time with family, friends and everyone,” Adi said on Saturday. “Really I want to thank all of my great family, which is Youngstown, who made a great job, a great job to support my case and support me.I felt the love all over the world, wherever I go.

Adi credited his lawyer David Leopold of Cleveland, US Representative Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, and Ryan’s advisor Michael Morley for helping him secure the humanitarian visa that paved the way for his triumphant return. This work began “on the first day” after his deportation almost four years ago, Adi said.

He is now beginning the process of obtaining his US citizenship, he said.

“I live in Youngstown. I’m not going anywhere. This is my city and I have the right to live in this city, ”said Adi.

While Adi was in Jordan, the family spent a lot of time making video calls with him, Adi’s daughter Lina said.

After the birth of his grandson Yazan, Adi made sure to talk to him “every day,” he beamed.

But it wasn’t the same, Lina said. She said Mahoning questions the absence of his father left a “feeling of emptiness”.

“He was a big part of Youngstown. Not having him here, I felt like he was the missing piece, ”she said. “We all kept working and doing things that we were supposed to do, but it wasn’t the same without him being here.

“We are all very close to our father.”

Adi was unexpectedly arrested and jailed in 2018 during what was supposed to be a routine immigration status hearing, The Vindicator reported This year. Adi’s first wife, whom he married in 1980, told authorities the marriage was fraudulent, putting his immigration status at risk. In 2007, the woman retracted the statement, claiming it was made under duress, the newspaper reported.

While being held at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, Adi went on a hunger strike to protest his treatment by immigration officials.

He was deported to his native Jordan later that month.

Ryan at the time pleaded for a stay of Adi’s deportation. Congress requested that Adi’s case be reconsidered, but the ICE ignored the appeal.

Speaking on Saturday of his wasted years, Adi held back tears.

“The idea of ​​breaking up a family and taking any family member by force… is horrible. Our origin, our culture, our way of thinking – we are family, ”the Palestinian said on Saturday, his voice shaking with emotion.

“We put the family first. “

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