Council Defeats Measure to Pay for Anthony’s Demolition
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – City Council defeated a measure 4-3 Wednesday that would approve up to $48,000 to pay for the demolition of the former Anthony’s On The River building.
Third Ward Councilwoman Samantha Turner, First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver, Fifth Ward Councilwoman Basia Adamczak and Sixth Ward Councilwoman Anita Davis voted against the ordinance. Second Ward Councilman Jimmy Hughes, Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Ray and Fifth Ward Councilwoman Lauren McNally voted in favor.
Although the ordinance was to be placed before council Wednesday, the city on Saturday surreptitiously demolished the building without legislative approval.
The ordinance, sponsored by Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, calls for council to approve a purchase order for an amount not to exceed $48,000 for the emergency demolition of the building, which was in serious disrepair.
With the measure defeated, the city would have to collect money directly from the property owner, in this case Two Bridges LLC, Oliver said after the meeting. Two Bridges was incorporated by Ron Eiselstein and purchased the property, 15 Oak Hill Ave., in February 2019.
The building had fallen into serious disrepair and city officials said that they received complaints about bricks falling, spurring the emergency demolition over the weekend. The building was constructed in 1910 by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, but was converted into Anthony’s On The River – a popular restaurant that opened in 1997. The restaurant closed in the early 2010s.
Oliver said the administration “circumvented city council” and had already decided to raze the 110-year-old structure. Under an emergency action, the city is able to suspend the traditional bidding process in order to expedite the process.
Oliver said that initially, the ordinance wasn’t supposed to be brought before council during this session. However, once the measure became public as early as last Thursday, the city acted to demolish the building on its own.
“I feel like they already waived the bidding process and never informed council,” he said. “All of this could have been avoided if there was transparency.”
Oliver suspects that the building was torn down for other reasons and didn’t pose a threat to public safety, noting there are many instances in which dilapidated buildings downtown were allowed to stand despite their condition.
He added that the demolition of the building sets a bad precedent for other building owners in the city – that the administration could declare an emergency measure and then demolish property at will.
“I’m not for the shadiness of it,” he said. “This could happen to any citizen.”
Pictured: The site of the former Anthony’s On The River on Aug. 24 after demolition began.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.