YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The long-awaited conversion of North Phelps Street between West Federal Street and West Commerce street should be finished by July 4, city officials said Tuesday.
Despite lack of a quorum, the two members of the city’s Design Review Committee who attended the meeting — Deputy Director of Public Works Charles Shasho and member Angelo Pignatelli — heard from representatives of the projects on the day’s agenda. Their votes to recommend approval of all agenda items – including requests by the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley and a pair of new downtown restaurants – will need approval by one more member before zoning permits can be approved.
The North Phelps Street project is expected to begin after the annual holiday parade downtown, said Annissa Neider, architect with MS Consultants. Features will include a sewer-line replacement, leveling of the street to sidewalk level and installation stamped concrete with a color scheme to match the terra cotta storefronts along the street.
Lampposts matching those being installed along Fifth Avenue will be installed along the project area, as well as diagonal strand lighting, Neider said. A gateway arch will be installed at North Phelps and Commerce, and five removable bollards will be attached at each end.
“This is the gateway to the amphitheater,” she said.
“Everybody deserves this downtown,” Shasho said, referring to the years of construction projects at that section of North Phelps.
Art Daly, vice president of Eastern Gateway Community College’s Youngstown Campus, reported that the Mocha House should be open by the end of the month in the space formerly occupied by Los Gallos Mexican restaurant. The committee members approved signage for the Mocha House at the southwest corner of the building, below the Eastern Gateway sign, along with signs on South Champion and Boardman streets.
The committee also approved requests for two new downtown restaurants.
Gringos LLC plans to renovate the first floor, modify the entrance and remove the canopy of the building formerly occupied by Commonwealth Land Title Insurance of Youngstown, 20 and 24 N. Phelps, for a bar and restaurant.
At the former St. Vincent de Paul Society dining hall, 200 and 208 W. Front St., owner Earl Winner plans to open Utopia/Tavern 208 by October or November. He requested to retain the existing façades with some alterations, including removing a man-door at 208 W. Front, infill the opening with salvaged stone veneer to match the existing surface, install four overhead glass doors at existing masonry openings and installing a man-door and transom the east elevation at 200 W. Front.
“It’s exciting to see private investment” downtown, Shasho remarked.
United Way will add 2,500 square feet to the north end of its building at 255 N. Watt St., reported Bob Hannon, local United Way president. United Way purchased the building in 1983.
The value of the project is about $500,000 though United Way will actually pay less than that because some services are being donated, architect David Kiraly said.
In addition, the committee members recommended approving Joe Maxx Coffee Co. owner Michael Avey’s request to install an exterior sign, which will be illuminated by a solar LED light at night, to the front of his space in the Semple Building, 265 W. Commerce St., as well as two 24-inch vinyl signs to the front window of the space.
“People have a hard time spotting us because we have a very narrow space,” Avey said. When people are driving by, it is nearly impossible to see.
The committee members separately gave provisional approval to Avey’s request to provide outdoor seating using up to five tables, which would be brought inside nightly. The committee reserved the right to review the decision should there be excessive complaints.
In other action, the committee members approved the addition of an open-air, translucent enclosure at the Seventh District Court of Appeals building.