Scranton Historical Architecture Review Board Meeting

Scranton’s Historical Architectural Review Board agreed Monday that a digital billboard planned for the side of an apartment building at 134 Franklin Ave., accompanied by some old-fashioned painted lettering, would be appropriate in the downtown historic district.

The board approved the placement of an 8-foot-by-22-foot digital sign to go between the second and third floors of the four-story building owned by DFM Properties LLC, but wants lettering painted on the wall, too.

HARB’s “certificate of appropriateness” now goes to the Courtright administration to draft legislation for city council’s consideration at an upcoming council meeting.

The building, the former Hoban’s Restaurant Supply, used to have a Hoban billboard, which most recently said ‘For Rent,’ on the large wall facing Spruce Street adjoining a parking lot of The Times-Tribune. The sign was removed during a recent renovation of the wall that included creation of numerous windows.

DFM owner Don Mammano seeks city approval to put a sign back on the side of the building at 134 Franklin Ave., so he can advertise his firm’s various rental units throughout the city. DFM also owns the 317 Linden apartment building and about 16 properties in the Hill Section, Mammano said.

DFM bought the former Hoban structure in 2007. In recent years, Mammano began converting the upper floors into a dozen apartments that he calls the Iron Lofts. They were completed around June and are all occupied.

The conversion reflects a trend of several former commercial and office buildings downtown turned into apartments, both completed and underway.

HARB members Nell Donnelly-O’Boyle, Katie Gilmartin, Jennifer Davis and Bill Lesniak voted in favor of a certificate of appropriateness for the digital sign, and Peter Cupple cast the lone dissent. While telling Mammano he’s done a great job with the building, Cupple said he views a digital sign as “incompatible” with the structure.

Mammano noted he wants to reuse the same sign space as before, only now with digital capability, and said it won’t detract from the building character.

“The last thing I would want is a bright obnoxious sign on the building,” Mammano said.

HARB members suggested incorporating painted lettering, similar to the Bittenbender name on the adjoining building. Mammano said he already planned to paint the Iron Lofts name across the top of the side wall.

Board Chairman Richard Leonori did not vote because the chairman does not have to vote if there’s a quorum, he said. HARB members Katie Kearney, Lee Borthwick and Michael Muller were absent.

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