City Hall Annex Renovation Moves Forward

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The renovation of what is now the City Hall Annex to house Youngstown Municipal Court and related offices should be completed in about a year, an architect associated with the project said today.

Bids were to be opened at noon today for the bulk of the $7 million project, and the city’s Design Review Committee this morning approved the design of a new garage area and landscaping for the building.

“It’s really heartening when you’ve grown up in the city to see one of the landmarks being taken care of,” John DeFrance, an architect with Olsavsky-Jaminet Architects, Youngstown, said. The renovation should take about a year, he said.

Jaminet, who is a member of the committee, stepped outside that role for the first portion of Tuesday morning’s meeting to make the presentation on behalf of his company, which is the architectural firm on the project.

“It was a very important building. It remains a landmark,” DeFrance remarked. “It’s on the [National] Register [of Historic Places], so we’re very much respecting any change and trying to maintain the existing character and trying to bring back the really fine quality of the building.”

The committee’s remaining members approved plans to add a masonry garage to house vehicles for the court’s judges and the addition of a landscaped area with trees.

The city administration and municipal court judges announced plans last year to renovate the annex building to house the courts and related offices, which will be moved out of City Hall. The decision ended years of conflict, including litigation, between the court and administration.

The building, dedicated in 1933, originally was Youngstown’s main post office for the U.S. Postal Service. In later years its tenants included the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The new garage will encompass the existing receiving dock that used to serve the post office, DeFrance said.

“We caught it before real damage” to the building occurred, he added. “A lot of bad things can happen when the roof starts” to go, as happened with he former Paramount Theater, he added. “It broke our hearts” when the building had to be demolished due to the degraded condition, he said.

In other business, the city approved lighted signage for the M Gallery at the Erie Terminal Building. The signage will be on the southeast corner of the building.

Members of the committee discussed the number of signs allowed on a building, which already features signs for the building itself, which leases apartments, as well as One Hot Cookie and Rust Belt Brewing.

Downtown design standards recommend — but don’t mandate – a single multitenant sign per building.

“I don’t see a problem with it,” said Bill D’Avignon, deputy planning director and chairman of the committee. The building has three separate entrances with three different uses. The committee also has the ability to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

“It’s very handsome,” DeFrance said.

Sarah Delliquadri, creative director for NYO Property Group, which owns the Erie Terminal Building, said she expects work to begin tomorrow on the sign installation.

The committee deferred action on a request for permission to paint a mural on the south exterior wall of the Harshman Building, another NYO building, when a representative did not show up at Tuesday’s meeting. The mural is to be painted as part of a community work day in partnership with YSUscape.

Preliminary painting already got under way last weekend, to the consternation of another downtown property owner, Richard Mills, president of Ohio One Corp., another downtown landlord. A painter set up his ladder on the adjacent parking lot for Ohio One’s Rica Building and dropped paint on the lot.

“I would have appreciated the courtesy of a phone call,” Mills, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.