Youngstown to negotiate a contract with a firm to design a downtown amphitheater and river-park
By David Skolnick
The city will negotiate a contract with MKSK, a Columbus-based firm, to design an amphitheater at the Covelli Centre and a park along the Mahoning River.
Mayor John A. McNally said the city’s engineering, law and finance departments will meet shortly with MKSK to negotiate “an acceptable cost of services.” City council has approved legislation allowing the board of control, of which McNally chairs, to spend up to $90,000 for design work.
A seven-member advisory committee, largely consisting of city government officials, had six proposals to review. Two other firms – Strollo Architects, and Balog Steines Hendricks & Manchester Architects Inc., both based in Youngstown – were interviewed. The committee recommended MKSK, which is partnering with MS Consultants of Youngstown and FTL Design Engineering Studio of New York City.
“The committee felt as a whole that MKSK provided the greatest vision for the amphitheater and the park area,” said Sean McKinney, the city’s building and grounds commissioner and the committee’s chairman. “They’re considering one of the leading amphitheater/landscaping architects. They also have a significant amount of experience with grant writing and finding funding sources. What they’ll be able to accomplish here will be significant.”
MKSK has done extensive work throughout the country with several projects in Ohio, particularly in Columbus. Among the firm’s work in Columbus is a riverfront amphitheater, a downtown riverfront park, a highway redesign, a downtown strategic plan, and projects at The Ohio State University.
The city will work with MKSK to initially develop a cost estimate for what is to be done in Youngstown, McNally said. The city and the firm also will seek federal and state grants as well as foundation money, and will sell naming rights to the amphitheater and park, the mayor said.
“We have at least three groups interested in naming rights,” said McNally, who declined to disclose the businesses.
Also, water and wastewater money for those specific purposes will be used on the project, and no money will come from the city’s general fund, he said.
“The best-case scenario for completion of the project is next summer,” McNally said.
An amphitheater would increase the number of events at the city-owned Covelli Centre, particularly during the summer when the indoor facility is rarely used, city officials say. The outdoor facility would be available to community groups and for after-work events in addition to shows and concerts, McNally said.
The 15-acre location to be improved goes from underneath the South Avenue Bridge – passing under the Market Street Bridge – to just west of Hazel Street, the location of the former Wean United Building. That structure was demolished in 2014 with ownership given to the city.
McNally said he wants to connect the river park to the central downtown business district.
“I want more people downtown and more green space for downtown residents,” he said.