Committee gets OK to beautify Paramount Theatre site

By David Skolnick


As a contractor prepares to level the long-vacant Paramount Theatre and turn the downtown area into a parking lot, a group received approval from a city committee to beautify the front portion of the property.

Baumann Enterprises Inc., a Cleveland firm hired by the city for $721,000 to demolish the asbestos-filled building, will start the job in about a month. The work, to take about four months, will be done only at night on weekdays to cause as little disruption as possible to that busy downtown area.

The building, vacant since 1976, is at West Federal and North Hazel streets.

Members of the Paramount Project, a group that wants to preserve the memory of the 95-year-old building, received permission Tuesday from the city’s Design Review Committee for its plans.

Those plans include refurbishing or replacing the existing iron marquee awning on the front of the building and connecting it to columns, said Phil Kidd, a Paramount Project member.

Also, the group plans to have a seating area surrounded by planters with a line of columns and decorative fencing, he said. The group hopes to use the existing terra-cotta on the building for the columns.

The cost is about $130,000 to $160,000. The city received an $803,490 state grant for the Paramount project, and may be able to give money not spent on demolition toward the beautification project.

Also, a mural may be commissioned by the Paramount Project for the east side of the structure, he said.

The DRC met Tuesday in apparent violation of the state’s open-meetings law.

The DRC is considered a public body under state law and “shall not hold a special meeting unless it gives at least 24 hours’ advance notice to the news media that has requested notification,” Ohio Revised Code Section 121.22 reads. A number of times, including a few months ago, The Vindicator has asked to be notified of DRC meetings, and wasn’t notified of Tuesday’s meeting.

In an email, Bill D’Avignon, who heads the DRC, apologized for not giving notice, adding “I will again remind the planning staff to send notice.” The “again” is in reference to other times in recent years that notice wasn’t properly given to the newspaper about DRC meetings.

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