Artist plans to dress up ‘hole’ in downtown Youngstown with mural of city’s history

Local News

Bob Barko hopes his mural will draw people's eyes to something interesting instead of the unsightly "missing tooth" in the cityscape

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – There’s a big hole in downtown Youngstown left from the demolition of the old State Theater. It’s unsightly and now there’s a proposal to cover it with a vinyl mural.

“The hole,” as it’s become known, is on W. Federal Street between the Wells Building and the facade left over from the State Theater.

“It’s a missing tooth, I guess you could say, on the cityscape,” said Bob Barko, with Steel Town Studios.

Barko wants to cover the hole with his mural “Here In Youngstown,” which takes you through the history of the city. It’ll be printed on vinyl and attached to a 12-foot fence in front of the hole. The legend will be directly below it so people know what they’re looking at.

“On this mural, there are 92 different images that depict the city, people, and places, and products and everything from Youngstown,” Barko said.

He also wants to paint a mural on the lower section of the State Theater facade resembling the theater. He has a depiction of what it’ll look like when it’s finished.

“I don’t see a downside to this,” architect Greg Strollo said.

Strollo owns the Wells Building and the land where the theater stood. He likes the idea.

“Murals are a big hit. I don’t know why we wouldn’t do them on some of the surfaces that are available to us in the central business district,” he said.

“It softens the hole, so to speak,” said Sharon Letson, with Youngstown CityScape.

She said the cost would be somewhere between $5,000 and $7,000 — not a lot for a downtown development project.

It’s not supposed to be permanent either. Strollo hopes to build something there someday.

“Well, it’s a cute band-aid and it’s really an opportunity for us to point to our history,” Letson said.

Councilman Julius Oliver, who represents and lives downtown, has already pledged $500 to $1,000 of his discretionary funds to the project.

“For this to happen now, to have an artist’s rendition of something that’s going to go over the hole, I think it’s perfect for it right now until the actual development starts happening,” he said.

The plan is to start the project by September and have it ready for New Year’s Eve.

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