YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The tenants of Youngstown’s Park Vista independent living apartments have won their legal fight with the owners of their building.
The underground garage will be repaired and the parking lot on top of the garage reopened. All this after Youngstown city officials had warned that the entire 11-story apartment building could collapse.
The building’s underground garage has been closed for a year. There are now signs posted that indicate the construction process has started to fix the garage and the parking lot above it.
“We’re glad to see progress, a contractor on site, building permits on the wall and an opportunity to see an end to this exercise,” said Hunter Morrison, president of the Park Vista Residents Association.
The ordeal at Park Vista — located on Youngstown’s Fifth Avenue — began in early July when the city’s law director posted a notice warning of the “structural integrity of the underground garage.” He warned the residents to take “steps to secure your safety.”
It was later determined that the likelihood of the building collapsing was minimal, but still, the people living there wanted the garage and the parking lot repaired and reopened.
In August, many of them showed up in court after they filed a lawsuit to get the work done.
“Fortunately, we had a sympathetic judge — visiting Judge David Fuhry — who saw the value of this and the importance of negotiating a settlement that got everybody moving forward,” Morrison said.
At one point, the court ordered that $100,000 in rent be held in escrow. Morrison says once the project is finished and all invoices are paid, the court will release the money to Park Vista.
“Well, I think the fact that almost 90% of the residents put the money in escrow for two months, and that was a substantial amount of money, really convinced them that this was serious,” Morrison said.
Morrison also says that, done the right way, it shows the people can win.
“I think so. It’s a case of mustering your facts, building support and making your case,” he said.
The Park Vista apartments are 45% vacant. Morrison says the condition of the garage played a significant role in people leaving.
He wants to have a ribbon cutting when the garage reopens to let everyone know it’s still a great place to live.