City Approves Sign Change to Home Savings Tower

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Premier Bank will outline later today its plans for changeover of the sign on the Home Savings tower downtown.

The city’s Design Review Committee this morning approved a request by Gardner Signs Inc., Toledo, and Premier to replace the Home Savings signs on the four sides of the 275 W. Federal St. building. 

The request was one of four items the committee, which met virtually, considered and approved during the meeting. Members also heard a presentation from Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. on developing a housing strategy for the city, approved an addition to Hopewell Theater and gave conceptual approval to a mural project along Andrews Avenue 

Premier Bank was formed by the merger of Home Savings Bank and First Federal Bank of the Midwest, based in Defiance. A bank spokesperson said a release would be going out later today with additional information about the changeover.

The existing signage will be replaced with LED-illuminated channel lettering on all four sides with remote power sources on the backs of the signs, Jeff Prymas, vice president of Gardner Signs, said. 

Premier’s stylized “P” logo accompanied by the word “Premier” will be mounted on the sides facing north and south, and the logo by itself will appear on the east and west faces, utilizing the existing steel structure. Excess steel not needed for the new signage will be removed and masonry will be repaired and blended to match the existing conditions, Prymas said.

Members also voted to approve and commend to the city’s planning commission adoption of a draft housing conditions analysis and strategy to improve housing conditions. 

Ian Beniston, executive director of YNDC, which prepared the report, outlined its recommendations for the committee. Those recommendations include transitioning the city’s rental registration and inspection program to a performance-based model and increasing support for it by the city and other stakeholders; renovating existing properties as needed and working with partners to develop new housing stock in the city; assisting homeowners with upkeep, and expanding Youngstown’s existing Community Reinvestment Area citywide.

“This is really about improving housing quality for everybody in the city,” Beniston said.

Preparation included a two-step survey of city residents and the first citywide analysis of housing conditions done “in a long time,” he said. The analysis looked at factors such as condition, occupancy and condition of nearby properties, not just in the city itself but also in adjacent townships. 

Properties in Youngstown are far older than normal housing stock. Most of the housing in Youngstown was built prior to 1978, whereas the median age of a house in the United States is 37 years. 

The analysis also counted 1,841 vacant structures in the city, compared with 3,500 in 2016. A majority of which are because of demolitions but rehabilitations accounted for several formerly vacant properties being occupied, Beniston said. 

He said he expects to make another presentation to the planning commission before the strategy goes to City Council for consideration later this summer.

“Right now the focus is on making this as strong as it can be and get it adopted by City Council,” Beniston said.       

The committee gave conceptual approval for a mural on a retaining wall along Andrews Avenue. The mural, a joint project of Youngstown State University and Lit Youngstown, is receiving funding from the Raymond John Wean Foundation. 

YSU art students will design the mural, which will feature a “memory ribbon” with recollections of people who have lived in Youngstown, said Karen Schubert, executive director of Lit Youngstown. The project, which is getting underway during fall semester, is the first phase in what is being planned as a two-phase project. 

YSU art students will select the memories to be used, said Dragana Crnjak, YSU art professor. Demographic data is being collected from those submitting memories to help ensure diversity in selections and “show the complexity of our collective memory,” she said.  

Recollections already submitted include remembrances ranging from break dancing to city neighborhoods, Schubert said. 

“Strouss [Department Store] comes up again and again,” she said. “These are memories from people who just grew up here and from people who grew up here a long time ago.”  

The committee, at the suggestion of planning consultant Hunter Morrison, approved the project’s concept and requested that the applicants, including YSU students, return with more details to present at the committee’s September meeting. 

“I understand concerns about creative freedom but it is a piece of public property,” Morrison said.   

The 23.5-foot-by-12.5-foot vestibule addition to the Hopewell Theater, 702 Mahoning Ave., will improve access to the theater, said Kevin Willis, an associate principal with Strollo Architects, Youngstown.   

The vestibule, which will be added to the west side of the building, will include a wheelchair lift.

“It’s a very compact and simple plan. We wanted to keep the footprint small for visual impact and budgetary concerns,” Willis said. 

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.