Hamilton’s Architectural Design Review Board, which oversees appearances of buildings in Hamilton, didn’t like the design of a sign installed at the new Main Street Vinyl record store at 227 Main St. And the panel also took issue with the bluish-black paint color on the front of the record store, whose owner said it was put there by the landlord before he moved in.
Members of the ADRB voted 6-2 to reject the sign for the record store, and wished the paint color now on 227 Main St. had gone before them for approval. One member called the color choice “gawdawful” and “terrible.”
Even as the board rejected the sign, the panel decided to send two positive messages to the business’ owner, Bill Herren: The city wants to help create a better design; and thank you very much for opening your store in Hamilton.
“There’s got to be a better way” for the sign to look, said board member Armand Bloch. “I’m not sure, because I’m not a sign designer, but we have a historically significant building here, which we’ve gone into an unusual color pattern on the front, paint-wise.”
He said the sign, which resembles vinyl, looked like something that might appear at a used-car lot.
“If we approved that color of that building in the first place, I was never here,” said board member Steve Beckman. “That is absolutely gawdawful…. I couldn’t believe that color when I first saw it.”
City staff told the board the color of the building never was taken to the board for approval of appropriate colors in a historic area, as it should have been.
Board member Karen Whalen said, “As excited as we are to see all these wonderful small businesses coming to Main Street, and the revitalization, if they do not have the appropriate look for the historical Rossville Main Street, and it’s going to look like the other end of High Street used to look, we aren’t going to be ahead.”
She added: “And I find the signage to be inappropriate to the historical character of the little shops that they’re trying to forge ahead and create.”
Board member Tom Alf, who cast one of the two votes (along with Beckman) in favor of allowing the proposed sign, said he didn’t want to reject the sign because it’s important to be thankful for new businesses moving in.
“Everyone’s working hard to get people involved in this city, and we need to part of it, not being the Gestapo police,” he said, calling this past week’s Independence Day celebration one of the best days in Hamilton history.
Board member Jenny Albinus suggested the city create visual guidelines for business owners to know what’s appropriate or not. She observed that the store’s sign is “awkward” because the record store occupies “half of a storefront, and the sign itself isn’t centered over the window or the opening.”
Store owner Bill Herren, whose business has been open seven weeks, is interested in hearing the city’s ideas. Herren, who was unable to attend the meeting, said afterward he didn’t understand the problem, because, “that’s where the original sign was.”
He said afterward the awkwardness of the signage may be easily resolved because he’s hoping to also occupy the other side of the storefront as well.
“We’re hoping to be on that side (that’s lacking a sign) as well,” he said. Herren said customers of the store have been “more than we expected. The support from the community has been overwhelming.”
Chairwoman Mary Pat Essman said after the vote: “We do appreciate new businesses being open. That’s something we want to emphasize.”