Management Company, Owner of Realty Tower Respond to Criticism

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The companies that own and manage the Realty Tower responded Friday to individuals and groups that have been critical of them in the aftermath of the May 28 gas explosion at the downtown building. 

The owner, YO 47 LLC, and the management company, Live Youngstown Property Management, take exception to some of the characterizations made by those individuals about the owner’s and management company’s decision to demolish the building and their motives.

Here is the full statement from Live Youngstown Property Management and YO 47, LLC:

Our Company, Our Legacy

It has been alleged by community members that the decision to demolish Realty Tower has been motivated by ulterior intentions, made with haste, and not considerate of the historic value of downtown; unfounded speculations of this sort will no longer be tolerated by our company. Our organization was among the first to invest in Youngstown’s latest two decades of revitalization. In fact, we have restored four additional properties besides Realty Tower and remain committed to additional restoration projects. We have dedicated our careers to investing in and restoring downtown buildings that other organizations were keen to leave vacant. Our projects have stimulated the downtown economy exponentially, creating jobs, attracting people to Youngstown, and changing the social and cultural landscape of our beloved downtown. Our city’s vibrancy will not be diminished and we will march forward. Much like the beloved buildings we carefully restore, at the heart of these projects are people. People reside in Realty Tower. People work in Realty Tower. People were impacted firsthand by the unprecedented tragedy of May 28. It is the residents, the employees, the neighbors, and the surrounding community’s safety who motivate our decisions.

Special Interest Groups and Investigation

Many interviews and articles have featured commentary from City Council members and special interest groups, including those led by Scott Schulick and Paul Hagman. These interviews feature many false and uninformed claims (as we have refuted below). Most recently, a letter was posted on Facebook from SSRG, an engineering firm hired by Councilman Oliver and supported by Scott Schulick and Paul Hagman. This letter has never been directly submitted to the ownership group, even after our attorney has requested for this and other documentation from their first survey of the site. In fact, Mr. Schulick has never reached out to our organization or attorney at any time during this process. Instead, he prefers to vilify us and portray himself as a stakeholder and authority in every other possible forum. A phone call to our representation would have been welcomed if his true interest was to gain knowledge on measures to “Save Realty Tower”. Furthermore, it is important to distinguish that the letter posted on Facebook is a request for a second site visit. It was the second site visit that was denied. The request was denied because there is an on-going investigation into the tragic death of Akil Drake. We have fully cooperated with this investigation and it has required us to grant very limited access to preserve all evidence. While we appreciate and clearly share their passion for preservation, their continual contradictory/uninformed statements have detracted from the actual work that is being done to restore order back to displaced residents, business owners, and commerce.

Our Final Decision

An important distinction must be stated: ideas and opinions of special interest groups are not informed facts, nor are they sustainable without realistic, executable actions. At least five structural engineering companies, (including SSRG’s initial evaluation) have independently concluded that while the building could potentially be stabilized, its longevity could not be guaranteed or insured.

Our company retained Bill G. Halkiadakis of United Engineers & Consultants in New Jersey. Mr. Halkiadakis is an independent expert with no affiliation to an insurance company. His pedigree is extensive and boasts 43 years of diverse engineering experience (including working on the World Trade Center explosions):

● Engineering and construction management of complex multi-million-dollar projects for government, major utilities, telecommunications clients, and private industry
● Licensed as a professional engineer, professional planner, and certified municipal engineer with
● Extensive experience in engineering management, project and construction management
● Municipal engineering, and structural engineering.
● Qualified as an expert witness in the fields of structural engineering, geotechnical engineering
● Professional Engineer registration in 16 states including Ohio.
● Experience in construction arbitration boards and municipal boards of appeal.


● M.B.A. – Management of Technology – New Jersey Institute of Technology, N.J.
● M.S. – Engineering Management – New Jersey Institute of Technology, N.J.
● B.S.E.T. – Surveying Engineering – New Jersey Institute of Technology, N.J.
● C.Eng. – Engineer’s Degree in Structural Engineering – Stevens Institute of Technology, N.J.
● M.E.C.E. – Structural / Geotechnical Engineering – Manhattan College, N.Y.
● B.E.C.E. – Civil Engineering (Magna Cum Laude) – Manhattan College, N.Y.

Mr. Halkiadakis’s final report indicated the building’s salvation is feasibly impractical due to the existing damage and extensive safety concerns. As Mr. Halkiadakis observed, the 1923 building was not engineered to sustain an explosion and the full scope of subsequent risks will never be fully known. He explains, “My methodology was based on a risk assessment of the entire building. Right now the condition of the building not only affects Realty Tower but also affects the remaining buildings. The building was built in 1923 and the loads associated with explosions was something that was never envisioned by the original builders.”

Halkiadakis pointed out that any structural engineer has a considerable number of elements to assess in order to provide a holistic, comprehensive report. Minor damages and major damages all must be considered for an engineering firm to fully declare the building safe; a process that would shutter the entire downtown for an extensive amount of time. He also asserts that this arduous process would likely never be complete due to the number of unknowns. “Right now, for example, trying to repair (the inside of the building), debris would need to be removed which may result in additional partial collapse. So my thought process, which I believe is the opinion of other engineers, is that due to the fact that there are so many risks, and so many ‘unknown unknowns’, meaning we do not know a lot of things about the condition of the other structural elements of the building. In order for Youngstown to be able to allow not only the residents of this building but the other properties to come back to some type of normalcy, the fastest way for Youngstown to go back to their normal life is to proceed with the controlled demolition of the building which will allow those unknowns to be eliminated.”

Any other credible structural engineering company would likely render the same findings the last five companies did; stabilization does not equate long-term safety and viability. Beyond stabilization efforts, not a single firm will fully insure the project. In fact, the only firm willing to fully cover their liability is the demolition engineer.

Concluding Statement

We are not interested in engaging in political rhetoric, suppositions, or impulsive ideas, but will no longer allow feckless commentary, reckless suggestions, and insulting statements to be circulated unconfronted. Our core mission is providing the solace of solution to the actual stakeholders of this situation; the people directly impacted by this tragic event, our residents, our neighbors, our employees and tenants.

Yo 47, LLC

LY Property Management, LLC

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