Government

Design Review Committee Denies NYO Signs

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Design Review Committee Wednesday denied the NYO Property Group requests to place vinyl signs on two of its downtown properties.

The requests were for buildings at 1 W. Federal St., better known as First National Tower (formerly Metropolitan Tower), and 16 Wick Ave., which is vacant, were continued from the committee’s meeting in June.

The downtown landlord and developer had sought permission to mount a vinyl horizontal banner, which measures 10-by-50-feet, across the exterior of the fifth floor of First National Tower that faces Market Street and to put two perforated window vinyl signs of 4-by-9-feet each in the first-floor windows of 16 Wick that face Wick Avenue.

Committee Chairman Bill D’Avignon, also deputy director of planning and strategic development, remarked that the length of the intended First National banner is excessive. “It takes up the entire length of the building,” he said.

Yesterday, like the committee’s June meeting, NYO did not send a representative. NYO was notified June 20 of yesterday’s meeting, D’Avignon said, and also received notice of the June meeting well in advance.

NYO did not respond to a request for comment from The Business Journal.

NYO’s failure to send a representative to both meetings particularly irked committee member Angelo Pignatelli. He moved to deny both applications. “They didn’t come last month,” he stated. “They’re not here today.”

“The Metropolitan would have been rejected anyway,” regardless of whether an NYO representative had attended, D’Avignon said afterward.

Pignatelli and other board members had earlier criticized NYO’s frequent use of the vinyl banners on its properties downtown. In some instances, committee approval was sought after the signs had been hung.

“It’s fair to say we’ve had ongoing concerns as to whether they’re doing more than we feel comfortable allowing,” D’Avignon said. One concern is that the signage promotes NYO’s brand more than promoting the downtown as a desirable place to live.

In other business, the committee approved an application by Larsen Architects, Cleveland, to remodel the McDonald’s restaurant at 570 Fifth Ave., across from Youngstown State University. The renovation will bring the restaurant, built in 1987, in line with the fast-food chain’s more contemporary look, said Bob Bumbarger, project manager with Larsen.

The restaurant is operated by local McDonald’s franchisee John Perdue.

The project, which will involve addition of a side-by-side drive-thru area, exterior renovations, interior door renovations, site improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and bathroom remodel, will cost about $800,000, said Dave Gnatowski, area construction manager for McDonald’s USA LLC.

“We don’t have everything bid out yet,” Gnatowski said. “It’s a sizable investment.”

An earlier plan to add just the two-lane drive-thru was approved in 2013 but not executed.

The goal is to complete the renovation by the start of fall semester at YSU, Bumbarger said.

The committee also rescinded its earlier recommendation, awarded last month, for the placement of a shipping container bus shelter at the northwestern corner of Wick Avenue and East Federal Street. The shelter is one of five community art projects funded through a $100,000 Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts Through Community Engagement – or Inplace — grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The committee had approved the project at its February meeting but asked Tony Armeni, one of its designers, to find an alternative to the proposed site in front of the Mahoning County Courthouse.

Since the committee approved the new site last month, Youngstown received “bit of pushback” from a local veterans’ organization, reported Chuck Shasho, deputy director of public works and a committee member.

Representatives of the United Veterans Council of Youngstown expressed concern that the placement of the bus shelter would “obscure and/or overshadow” the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial, according to a letter the group’s commander, Jennifer L. Baun, sent Mayor John McNally.

“It’s a pretty large structure,” Shasho said.

One site discussed is in front of the Our Community Kitchen feeding site, 551 Mahoning Ave. Operators of the site had earlier suggested the location when an alternative was sought for the courthouse site, D’Avignon said.

“There are people that get on the bus there,” he said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.