September 23, 2009
Advisory Board on the Visual Environment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson

Minutes:        VEB Meeting of Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Present:        Doug Wehrle, chair, Valerie Leis, Kevin McManus, Tom Smith, and Building Dept. Liaison Joe Sperber.

Absent: Sandy Hardy and Trustee Liaison Demetra Restuccia.

The Board reviewed one sign application and briefly discussed plans for moving signage that had been approved for another location.

1. Casa de Nicola
Carlo D’Ippolito of City Lights Sign Company in Mohegan Lake appeared before the board on behalf of the restaurant, which will be opening at 387 South Riverside Avenue.  As presented, the signage would consist of multiple parts: three maroon awnings (one over the entrance, the other two over windows) would feature white text, and  a light box at the top of the façade would have maroon text against a white background.  The awning over the entrance would bear the restaurant’s name on the front panel in a typeface that appears Middle Eastern; the Board learned during the course of discussion that this typeface is used on the menus and functions as a sort of logo.  The proposal called for this text to be arched over the word “Ristorante,” which appears in a different font; the word “Ristorante” would appear on both sides of the awning as well.  The words “Italian” and “Cuisine” appear in yet another typeface, one word each on the awnings over the windows. The lightbox would replicate the text from the front of the awning, with “Casa de Nicola” in the Middle Eastern-style typeface arched over the word “Ristorante.”

VEB Discussion:
  • The Board touched on various areas of concern with the signage plan as presented.  The first issue had to do with the color of the awnings, which members agreed is an attractive color but one that resembles the color being planned for several other signs on South Riverside.  In addition, members noted that the maroon is close in color to the brickwork on the building.  The VEB suggested that a midnight or navy blue should be used for the awnings instead.
  • After learning that the typeface used for the restaurant’s name had appeared on its previous location and was a fixture on the business’s printed materials, the Board modified its suggestion that a more Italianate font be used.  Instead, members urged Mr. D’Ippolito to talk to the owner about modifying how the name and other text is presented on the three awnings and light box, as follows:
1.      Awning over the entrance:  The Board suggested that only the restaurant’s name should appear on the front panel of the awning over the entrance to the building.  It would be spelled out in a straight line, with no arch, and as far as possible should be level with the text on the window awnings.  The restaurant’s distinctive font could be used for the name, but members suggested that all other text should be in an Optima-style typeface. The word “Ristorante” would remain on both sides of the awning over the entrance, but it should be in the Optima-style typeface.
2.      Awnings over the windows:  As in the original proposal, the word “Italian” would appear on the awning at the center of the façade, and “Cuisine” would appear over the other window. However, these would appear in the same typeface as the word “Ristorante” on the awning over the entrance.
3.      Light box:  The VEB strongly suggested that the light box should only include the word “Ristorante.”  This would eliminate the problems posed by the original plan’s duplication of the same text and layout on the light box and awning over the entrance.  The word should appear in a lighter-weight Optima than that used on the awnings.
  • In addition to its comments regarding the signage, the Board urged that something be done to bring a sense of energy and life to the otherwise dark storefront windows.  One possibility would be to surround the windows with small white lights, and another would be to use a thin strip of neon lighting—perhaps it could be just at the top of the window, but enough to cast a festive glow.
  • Members were impressed by the amount of work the restaurant owner has been doing on the inside of the building and expressed the hope that the exterior will reflect the same level of quality and care.  Suggestions included tending to the plantings in front of the building and perhaps working with the landlord to upgrade the side walls, which are discolored and stained.
VEB Recommendations:
  • The Board thanked Mr. D’Ippolito for his willingness to communicate back and forth via email about revisions to the plans.
  • As a general matter, the Board repeated its call to make the awnings a blue color and to revise the text and its layout as described above.
2. Interiors by Lisa
The Board briefly reviewed plans for relocating the signs that had been approved for the store’s North Riverside Avenue location to its new home on Croton Point Avenue.  Members agreed with the planned placement of one sign on the front of the building and spoke approvingly of the wooden panel that had already been mounted there.  However, the Board suggested that a second sign planned for the building’s east-facing side should be nudged slightly toward the center window so as to relieve a sense of crowding.  The Board further suggested that this second sign should be regarded as temporary, until resources allow for the installation of a more appropriately sized sign.

The meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.