Huntington Bank gets OK for signs, but downtown reopening still uncertain

Huntington Bank gets OK for signs, but downtown reopening still uncertain

YOUNGSTOWN — Huntington Bank received approval from a city committee to hang “Coming soon” signs outside a downtown location — across the street from the Realty Tower, the site of a deadly and damaging explosion — but it isn’t known if the branch will open July 15 as planned.

The city’s design review committee voted Tuesday in favor of authorizing the bank to hang two 4-by-8 vinyl signs on the building, 23 Market St., on the corner of West Boardman Street, to advertise for four weeks prior to its planned reopening.

The approval was given without any representative from Huntington in attendance at the committee’s meeting.

The committee usually defers a decision if no one shows up to discuss a proposal. But committee members decided because the signs are temporary it would grant the request and allow them to remain until the end of July.

Attempts to reach Huntington officials Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The Huntington branch that is to reopen is near Realty Tower.

Six minutes after a gas line at Realty Tower, 47 E. Federal St., was cut for the third time on May 28, an explosion occurred, heavily damaging the 12-story building, including the Chase Bank branch on the first floor. Akil Drake, a 27-year-old Chase employee, was killed in the explosion.

GreenHeart Companies of Boardman was working to relocate the building’s utility lines when the gas line was cut, according to documentation obtained by The Vindicator and statements from city officials.

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation into what happened and determining if the cut gas line led to the explosion. Thomas Chapman, an NTSB member, said the work crew was unaware the gas pipe was pressurized when the line was cut.

A final report with the cause of the blast will take one to two years, Chapman said, but a preliminary report is expected in less than a month.

Because of concerns over the building’s structural soundness, no one is permitted to go inside, which is severely hampering the investigation.

It is unknown when — or if — the tenants who lived in the 23 apartments at Realty can return to retrieve some of their belongings they had to leave behind after the explosion.

It’s also unknown if Realty can be saved after the extensive damage it sustained.

Chase set up a temporary location with an ATM at the Covelli Centre parking lot Tuesday.

Huntington is looking to reopen at the 23 Market St. location the bank used to own.

Huntington closed that branch, which had been a bank location for about 150 years, in October 2021 and opened a much smaller space at 44 E. Federal St., the Stambaugh Building, where the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel is located.

Three months after announcing it would close its 26 Market St. operations and consolidate them at the Stambaugh Building, Huntington announced it would reopen its main downtown branch, using significantly less space there.

That decision came after Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said the city would stop using Huntington as its primary bank if it didn’t reconsider.

The return to 26 Market St. was supposed to happen a while ago, but has been delayed.

Because the Stambaugh Building is located next to Realty — and in the zone where debris or a potential collapse could occur — it also remains indefinitely closed, so Huntington doesn’t have any branches opened downtown.

Huntington sold the 26 Market St. location in December 2022 for $2.3 million to 22 Market Street Ohio LLC of Monroe, New York.

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today