Rica Building Mural, Youngstown

Design Review Approves Mural Projects

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio  — The city’s Design Review Committee on Tuesday approved projects intended to brighten and beautify sections of downtown, including a large mural that would encompass the entire south and east walls of the Rica building.

Artist Patrick McGlone presented a revised color scheme and design of the Rica building’s mural to the committee. The initial submission included bright yellow, blue and red vertical ribbons along the south face, and a bust rendering of the Greek god Apollo on the building’s east side.

McGlone’s revised design calls for more muted shades of blues and yellows — but Apollo will stay.  “We wanted something new, we wanted something fresh,” he said.

The new design, he added, also imbeds patterns reflective of Youngstown’s cultural heritage – African, Italian, Irish, Greek, Puerto Rican – as well as a piece of text from an old Youngstown Vindicator.

“We wanted to make something community-based, but we also wanted something fresh for the building,” he says.

Businessman Tim Huber acquired the Rica Building, 117 S. Champion St., last year from Ohio One Corp. He plans to convert the third and fourth floors into 4,800 square-foot condominiums and renovate the second floor into office space.

McGlone told the committee that Huber contacted him about refreshing the faded mural on the building – first painted in 1986.  “It’s kind of a staple as far as public art in the city,” he said of the Rica. “He wanted something new, he wanted to create his own identity for owning this building.”

The restoration project will also include new windows and re-mortared brick, he said.

Prep and mortar work on the project could begin this month, and mural work would begin in June, McGlone said.  It will take approximately three months to complete the job.

Another public mural project – this one meant for the underpass of the Spring Commons Bridge – will feature large inspirational messages that incorporate the word “You” – the first three letters in Youngstown.

Jesse Reed, based in Brooklyn, said he’s visited the city during the summer and fall and scouted out potential locations for the painted slogans. He finally selected the Spring Common underpass because it feeds directly into West Front Street downtown and provides a blank, white canvass.

The idea is to paint the slogan “You Can You Will” in 14-foot black letters on the wall bracing the westbound lane and “You Are You See” along the eastbound lane. Reed said McGlone is commissioned to paint the underpass and should begin the project in June.

Design Review also approved a conceptual plan that calls for the Junior League of the Mahoning Valley to redevelop greenspace on city-owned property that fronts a parking lot owned by Valley Foods and across the street from the Youngstown Flea.

Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick, a Junior League member, said the East End of downtown is seeing additional investment and activity. This parcel presents a perfect opportunity to landscape and create a small park replete with benches, memorial pavers for a pathway, new flowers, boxwood and arborvitae.

“There’s no cost to the city,” Dellick told the committee. All of the maintenance and costs associated with the project would be the responsibility of the Junior League.  The project’s tentative name, “Legacy Park,” is in honor of the historic nature and value of the city’s East End.

Committee Chairman Hunter Morrison said the schematics provided to design review represent a “first step” and required more detail, but thought it necessary to consider the conceptual plan with the intention of submitting a more detailed design at a future meeting.

The city’s Board of Control has already approved a memorandum of understanding with the Junior League in support of the project.

Also, design review approved an expansion at WRTA’s bus garage for a washing station and HVAC upgrades at Youngstown Early College.

However, the committee opted to table a request by brothers Michael and Joseph Thomas, owners of the Whistle & Keg tavern downtown.  The bar owners want to extend black fencing around the corner along Phelps Street, where the city is converting into a pedestrian way leading to the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

Michael Thomas said they’ve requested the addition in order to match what restaurants and bars across Federal Street have done.

Youngstown Deputy Director of Public Works Charles Shasho spoke out against the project.  Others on the committee felt it was premature to approve any plans until the Phelps Street corridor was complete, suggesting the owners work with city representatives and re-submit a proposal once that work is finished.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.