Columbus Firm Recommended for Amphitheater Project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – City officials want to meet by July 15 with MKSK, the Columbus-based landscape architecture firm recommended to design an amphitheater and green space on property east and west of the Market Street bridge into the downtown.

The recommendation came from the committee Mayor John McNally appointed in April to review responses to request for qualifications for the work. MKSK is one of three firms the committee interviewed. Six responded to the request.

The committee was impressed with MKSK’s presentation and liked what it did with other projects in Ohio, including its work in Dayton (CLICK HERE) and throughout the United States, officials said.

The proposed amphitheater and green space would be on the former Wean United property. Removal of scrap and debris from demolition of the former Wean building is underway, McNally said. The mayor noted that a large sewer line runs though the site. “We’re hoping we don’t have to dig up too much of that site,” he added.

The goal after sitting down with MKSK representatives is to get them “up and running” to start the project later this year or in early 2016, said Sean McKinney, city building and grounds commissioner. McKinney chairs the review committee.

“I’m sure there would be a couple more conversations, not only with the Board of Control and members of council, but possibly with the committee,” he said.

Based on the recommendation, McNally says he will direct the law, finance and public works departments to meet with MKSK to go over “four key components” to the project: conceptual layout of the amphitheater and green spaces, linkages to the Mahoning River and Mill Creek MetroParks and the central business district, timeline for construction and landscaping, and “perhaps most importantly the economics of the project.”

“As I’ve said from the get-go, I don’t want to use any general fund moneys for this project,” the mayor said. “So we’ll be sitting down with MKSK and discussing how we can move forward with naming rights” as well as additional sponsorship funds, federal and state money that might be available, and foundation grants.

Three companies have come forward to express an interest in naming rights, he reported. The city will rely on its relationship with Eric Ryan, president of JAC Management Group and executive director of the Covelli Centre, to facilitate that aspect of the project.

The proposed amphitheater would be next to the Covelli Centre and serve as a sister facility to the city-owned arena. Ryan, who also served on the review committee, has long advocated for construction of an amphitheater to take advantage of shows and tours that prefer outdoor venues in the summer months.

Once the components have been discussed with MKSK, the administration will go to City Council with “sort of a master plan” for approval of City Council, McNally said.

“Fall is probably the appropriate time to bring something back to City Council,” he said. He would like to see construction get underway next spring and completion project by late summer of 2016.

Pictured: MKSK designed he city of Dayton’s RiverScape Entertainment Pavilion & Bike Hub project.

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