Realty Tower in Downtown Youngstown to Be Razed

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – City officials and representatives of Realty Tower owner YO Properties 47 LLC met Monday afternoon and have opted to target the landmark building for demolition.

“City officials met with the building owners of Realty Tower this afternoon. After their consultation with several engineers who expressed significant concerns regarding the ability to safely stabilize the building, the owner’s plan is to demolish Realty Tower,” according to a statement issued by the city. “We will be meeting with them throughout the week to be briefed on the details of that process.

“While we are disappointed that such a prominent and historic downtown building cannot be saved, we are thankful to be moving forward with a resolution to safely get residents home and downtown businesses open.”

On May 28, a blast caused by a cut gas line blew out the entire ground floor of the landmark building downtown, killing one man and injuring seven others. The disaster has displaced dozens of others, including those residents of Realty Tower that have not been able to retrieve their personal belongings since the explosion.

Another approximately 170 residents of International Towers located next to the building have been evacuated because of concerns that Realty Tower could collapse. Those residents have been temporarily relocated. Meanwhile, businesses such as the DoubleTree by Hilton Youngstown Downtown hotel across Federal Street and its ground floor restaurant, Bistro 1907, remain closed because of concerns over Realty Tower.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown’s office issued a statement June 13 that notified the building owner that it wanted them to deliver an “actionable plan to safely stabilize the building by the close of business Monday, June 17. If not received, we are ready to find a willing structural engineer to start the process of safely stabilizing Realty Tower.”

An initial survey from a structural engineer retained by the city last week concluded that Realty Tower remained “structurally unsafe,” prompting fire Chief Barry Finley to evacuate International Towers.

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading an investigation into the cause of the explosion, and a preliminary report is expected late this month. That investigation has been hampered though because investigators weren’t able to enter the building due to safety concerns.

NTSB’s early investigation, which officials stressed is preliminary, pointed to an abandoned gas line that had been cut while crews, contracted by the city, were working to relocate utilities in the Realty Tower basement and prepare it for infill as part of the SMART2 project.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.