City Approves $80K in Façade Grants for 4 Businesses

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city’s Design Review Committee approved façade grants totaling $80,000 for four businesses but deferred action on four others because committee members sought additional information about the projects.    

BGBM LLC, Daddy D’s BBQ LLC, Calvin Center and Voyager Coffee all received the maximum $20,000 per business permitted under the program.

In January, the city approved the creation of a $1 million façade program to be administered by Valley Partners. Businesses in the city can apply to be reimbursed for up to half of qualified expenses up to the $20,000 cap for exterior improvements including painting, siding, fencing, landscaping signage and paving.

Upon approval by the design review committee, the business will enter into a loan agreement for a five-year term with the city. For each year the business remains in the city, 20% of the loan is forgiven.   

Voyager Specialty Coffee & Teas, Canfield, is in the process of renovating two buildings at 1586 and 1588 Mahoning Ave., with plans to house Voyager’s manufacturing and distribution operations in one and to open Trek Coffeehouse in the other.

Using the façade funds, Voyager plans include adding a bike rack, building a frame for the façade, adding signage, replacing gutter and adding lighting to the façade and sidewalks. Owner Levi Smith said he wants to do tastings at the production and warehousing building to allow people to sample voyager’s products.

“What better way to engage the community?” he asked.   

BGMG Marketing & Management, the entity that oversees the One Hot Cookie, Sweet Sips and Oh Donut Co. brands, was awarded façade funds to support a $75,000 project at 407 Steel St., which BGMG purchased last year.

BGMG, which uses the building to house the mobile units associated with its various businesses as well as packing and shipping materials, plans to use the façade funds to replace a door jam, pressure wash and paint the structure, install exterior signage, upgrade exterior lighting and cleanup landscaping and debris around the building.

“We do have a passion for vintage mobile units, so they need to be stored in the winter,” co-owner Bergen Giordani said. “They’re not all aluminum trailers that can weather our winters.”  

The building has been in use since it was purchased, and BGMG already has replaced the garage door and is addressing water issues in the structure.

“We are actively investing in this property,” Giordani said. “What we’re looking to do is just to continue to improve the look of it in the city so that it doesn’t have that dilapidated warehouse feel.”

The two other $20,000 requests the committee approved were for Daddy D’s BBQ, the in-house caterer at the B&O Station’s building, 530 Mahoning Ave., to resurface 69,049 square feet of parking lot, and for Calvin Center, 755 Mahoning Ave., to replace 44 windows in the front and middle sections of the building.  

The committee deferred action on requests by JAD Rentals, 324 N. Fruit St.; Destiny Auto Sales, 1583 Mahoning Ave.; Palm Café, 301 Steel St.; and Penguin Contracting, 2755 Salt Springs Road.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the panel approved requests by the city for improvements to the city-owned parking lot at Fifth Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and by the owner of the Apollo Building to replace all 42 of the building’s windows.

When the 117 S. Champion St. building was repainted last year, building owner Michael Huber discovered many of the windows were deteriorating, said architect Michael Fagan of Olsavsky Jaminet Architects. The building’s top two floors are leased as residential units, and discussions are underway with potential tenants for the first and second floors.

A late item on the agenda, the proposed improvements to the parking lot, which is next to the main fire station downtown, will include installation of electric vehicle recharging stations and a station to rent electric bicycles, said Charles Shasho, city deputy director of public works. Other elements will include greenspace and bike racks evoking the nearby Spring Common Bridge.

The corridor was upgraded recently as part of a $27.65 million downtown Youngstown road project.

“We’re ready to go with construction,” Shasho said. “We’ve long envisioned making some improvements to the lot to kind of put the icing on the cake of the Fifth Avenue corridor.”

Pictured at top: The Calvin Center building at 755 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown.

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