Economic Development

‘Not Trying to Circumvent System,’ Marchionda Says of Signage

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – NYO Property Group’s request for after-the-fact permission to hang signs on a safety fence surrounding the Stambaugh Building engendered heated discussion during Tuesday’s meeting of the city’s Design Review Committee.

The signage had been up for about two weeks before yesterday’s meeting, when Sarah DelliQuadri, NYO’s creative director, requested permission for the banners on the fencing around the hotel project site.

DelliQuadri said she contacted Bill D’Avignon, design review committee chairman, last week regarding the signage. She said she wasn’t aware before then that the committee’s approval was required for the signs.

The 20-foot-by-6-foot vinyl mesh banners – totaling 380 feet in length — highlight the various project partners and advertise the building’s planned opening as a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in 2018.

Appearing shortly after the meeting began was developer Dominic Marchionda of NYO. “We’re not trying to do anything to circumvent the system,” Marchionda said.

The signage and fence are there for safety reasons, he said. The banners prevent construction debris from escaping the construction site.

“We were digging up along the plaza and the residue was spitting out at vehicles. This prevents that,” he said.

Member Angelo Pignatelli, who eventually cast the sole “no” vote against the signage, was vocal in his criticisms of NYO Property Group.

NYO has been around long enough to be familiar with the requirements, Pignatelli said.

“It’s always after the fact,” he continued. He criticized NYO for needing to be contacted to take down other signs downtown after their approved time had expired.

“They’re using this as construction safety screening,” D’Avignon said. Had NYO opted for neutral panels on the fencing rather than the approach it took, the committee’s approval may not have been required.

“It’s not exactly advertising,” D’Avignon said. “It’s the people that have contributed to financing.”

Member John DeFrance compared the situation to the sign at the City Hall Annex renovation project, which prominently displays project partners and did not have to go through the committee. The signage around the Stambaugh project goes beyond that by providing safety, he said.

Following the meeting, Marchionda said he is unable to comment on the state auditor’s investigation of him and his company. Nearly three weeks ago, authorities raided Marchionda’s home and the NYO offices as part of an investigation believed to center on water and wastewater grants Marchionda’s businesses received from the city for his downtown and university apartment projects.

Marchionda, who referred questions regarding the investigation to legal counsel, said the Stambaugh project remains on track.

“Our plan is to have a certificate of occupancy in December,” he said. “We’ll have a soft opening in late December and a formal ribbon cutting in February.

During the meeting, the committee approved the proposed design by Valley Christian School for its community art project, funded by a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Last year, NEA awarded $100,000 to Youngstown State University through its Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts Through Community Engagement – or Inplace — program, which was awarded to five projects.

The school’s project involves placing several spotlights along Emily Street to project onto the City Hall Annex building to create shadow art, said Angelo LaMarca, art instructor. The installation will include a sculpture of a crucible that will be projected on the wall, he said.

“There’s a lot of openness to the idea,” LaMarca said.

Members of the committee were enthusiastic about the project.

“It’s one of the more creative ones that we’ve seen,” D’Avignon observed.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.