Central YMCA, Skip’s Cafe Plans Go Before Board

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Design Review Committee Tuesday approved the façade for the Central Branch of the Youngstown YMCA and the basic aesthetics of Second Harvest Food Bank’s new serving site, Skip’s Cafe, near the central business district.

The work on the exterior of the downtown Y is part of its $5 million renovation. The Central branch building, constructed in 1914, has had a “succession of additions,” most recently in 1970, said Patrick Lankey. Lankey, project architect with Strollo Architects, Youngstown, told the committee at its monthly meeting yesterday.

The bulk of the work will be performed on the 20,000 square feet of interior – including splitting one of the main gyms in half — but the project also involves removing some masonry on the building and installing some new windows, Lankey said.

“Over the years we’ve had a lot of love put towards it but it’s causing some problems,” Lankey said. A railing “that is essentially masonry” is falling apart and will be replaced with metal.

The work will take nine months to a year to complete and be done in phases, he said. “There will be a little bit of shuffling but the Y will be open at all times,” he reported. A design for signage on the building, once approved, will be submitted later to the committee.

The Youngstown YMCA will detail its plans for the project at a press event Feb. 10.

The committee approved the “overall aesthetics” for Skip’s Café, a new site to feed the needy that Second Harvest will operate. The cafe is named for Ralph “Skip” Barone, former manager of the downtown soup kitchen operated by the Northeast Ohio Diocesan Council of St. Vincent DePaul Society.

Barone will be the director of Skip’s. He, along with several volunteers, left St. Vincent de Paul after clashing with the organization’s former president, Brian Antal. The new feeding site is being funded by a $750,000 donation.

Skip‘s Café will be constructed at 551 Mahoning Ave., where a 16,000-square-foot brick warehouse stood until recently.

“We’ve demolished it and are cleaning up the building,” reported Brice Jackson, project manager with Cocca Development Ltd., Boardman. “It was in deplorable condition.”

The Anthony Cocca Family Foundation owns the land.

A 6,560-square-foot pre-engineered steel building will be erected on the lot, Jackson said. The cafe will have seating for 200 and parking for 33 cars, mostly for those who volunteer there.

“This will be a really nice change for the neighborhood,” remarked John DeFrance, an architect with Olsavsky-Jaminet Architects, Youngstown, who serves on the committee.

Construction should take 90 to 120 days, once plans are approved, Jackson said. Civil engineering drawings have not been started but architectural drawings are about 85% complete and should be ready to submit to Mahoning County for approval in another week or two, he said. The county review generally takes a month.

“If the county comes back with questions, we have to go back to the architect to fix,” he added. A county review of those responses could take another two to three weeks.

“Obviously, we want to get started as soon as we can and get it completed as soon as we can,” he said. Olsavsky-Jaminet would report back to the committee once it has a design for the sign and landscaping.

The committee approved four signs, one for each corner of Eastern Gateway Community College’s Valley Center campus downtown. They will replace the temporary banners there now.

The lettering and logos for each corner is based on the Eastern Gateway logo and made of grey urethane. The stud-mounted signs will be lighted, said Margaret Jenkins, sales representative with Jenkins Sign Co., Youngstown.

“We’ve been communicating with [Eastern Gateway] quite regularly to tell them they needed to put up permanent signage,” said William D’Avignon, deputy planning director and chairman of the committee. “Thanks for finally getting the banners down,” he added.

Work to install the new signs will begin “as soon as possible,” Jenkins said.

Pictured: Rendering of new facade for the Youngstown YMCA’s Central Branch.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.