3 downtown businesses get approval for new signs

3 downtown businesses get approval

YOUNGSTOWN — The city’s Design Review Committee approved new signs for three downtown businesses: the OH WOW! children’s science and technology center, a restaurant at the Wick Tower and a boutique.

The committee voted Tuesday in favor of all three while postponing a vote until next month for a request from Valley Foods System at 335 E. Boardman St. for a chain link fence around a portion of its parking lot. The city’s planning consultant said a barbed-wire fence downtown would make the site look like a “prison.”

The proposal from OH WOW! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology, 11 W. Federal St., includes relocating the entrance from West Federal to Central Plaza, removal of a large sign on Federal and the application of an adhesive graphic “OH WOW!” sign on the plaza side.

The center closed in mid-March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and is undergoing a $4 million improvement project that includes the relocation of the entrance, additional community and educational spaces, and improvements to the acoustic quality of the exhibit halls, work areas and classrooms.

The center is expected to open by May 15, said Suzanne Barbati, its president and executive director.

The center took ownership of the building in December 2019 from First National Bank. The museum had leased the former McCrory Building for almost a decade before.

Paul Herbert of CambridgeSeven — the Cambridge, Mass., firm designing the project — said: “We want to get people exciting about the reopening.”


The committee backed a proposal from the owners of the Coyote Restaurant and Bar, which is opening in April on the ground floor of the 13-story Wick Tower at 34 W. Federal St.

The owners had proposed a 12-foot-by-18-inch triangular sign with a coyote silhouette at the top to be placed between the second and third floors of the building, which is on the corner of Federal and Phelps streets.

But committee members said the location of the sign, which weighs about 800 pounds, is too high.

“The sign is way too big and way too high,” Charles Shasho, a committee member and the city’s deputy director of public works, said.

Herb Rabatin, one of the restaurant’s co-owners, said he was concerned that placing the sign too low to the ground would lead to people trying to touch it and causing damage.

It was agreed to move the sign between the first and second floors and to keep it at its current size subject to final review by the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development Department.

Councilman Julius Oliver, D-1st Ward, who represents downtown, told the committee: “We have the premier luxury apartment building trying to have the premier restaurant there,” and the sign “is amazing.”

The restaurant project has been in the works for a year. The space used to house other restaurants and bars, but has been vacant for a few years.


The committee also supported a 30-inch-by-18-inch sign for the exterior of Bella Amica Casual Boutique at 19 W. Federal St., which opened last month in a small space next to Avalon Pizza. The business sells women’s clothing.

The committee on Tuesday failed to approve a request from Valley Foods System, which sought to erect a 360-linear-foot chain-link fence around a portion of its east parking lot to prevent the continual theft of vehicle parts and other items there, according to its application.

“A barbed-wired fence says a lot about downtown,” said Hunter Morrison, the city’s planning consultant who ran the meeting. He added the fence was “a nonstarter” and the company could “achieve a barrier without looking like a prison.”

The request was postponed until the committee’s next meeting, March 2.



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