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Demolishing Realty Tower is right move

On Monday, Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown announced the Realty Tower will be demolished.

The building’s owners — YO Properties 47 LLC — came to the decision after having conversations with several engineers who expressed significant concerns regarding the ability to stabilize the building safely, according to a news release from Brown’s office.

While demolishing a historic structure in the heart of downtown is a disappointing decision, it is one that will ensure the safety of the residents and the downtown community as a whole.

“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,” Brown stated in the release.

For the past three weeks, the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in the Stambaugh Building has been closed and weddings and other events have been canceled. The residents of the 23 units in the Realty Tower also were displaced by the May 28 explosion and haven’t been able to return to their apartments to recover their belongings. We can’t begin to imagine what these residents are going through as they attempt to move onto another chapter of their lives.

Then, more than 170 lower-income residents, who include senior citizens and others with disabilities, were moved from the International Towers, located next door to Realty Tower on the city’s Central Square, because the building is within a 210-foot radius, considered a “collapse zone,” of the Realty Tower.

Along with the tragic death of Akil Drake, 27, a Chase Bank employee, and the others who were injured in the explosion, the horrifying event has affected many. The demolition of the 13-floor Realty Tower allows some residents in the downtown area to return to a sense of normalcy, which is all some are hoping for at this juncture.

However, we ask the owners to proceed with caution as they plan the demolition process of the building. Brown has stated the city will learn more about the plan throughout the rest of this week, and we hope they will do whatever they can to continue to keep the community safe.

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