CAMPBELL, Ohio (WKBN) – Built between 1918 and 1920, historians call Campbell’s former Sheet and Tube Company homes “the first modern apartment complex ever built.” But now, nearly everyone agrees — even those who worked to save it — that it’s time for much of it to be demolished.
Monday afternoon, as two excavators demolished a building at the Sheet and Tube Company homes, even Tim Sokoloff — who spent 15 years running Iron Soup Estates, trying to save them — admitted the demolition was necessary.
“So it was a tough sell, but at least we gave it a shot. I don’t feel like I lost anything because we gave it our all and we just couldn’t get the ball rolling in the right direction,” he said.
“My vision is take them all down, other than the ones that are well-maintained,” said Campbell City Council President George Levendis.
Levendis watched the demolition, as did First Ward Councilman Tim O’Bryan.
“I mean, they’re just bad. They need to come down. It’s just a bad image for the city and it’s about time. People have been complaining for over 20 years now,” O’Bryan said.
Surrounding the demolition were the remnants of other homes, now mostly dilapidated. The building where a woman died on New Year’s Eve in a fire will come down this week.
Seventy of the 160 units left are scheduled for demolition. Some still need approval from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office.
“We have a serious squatting problem, drug problem, rat problem, cat problem. It’s time. Time’s up,” Levendis said.
Sokoloff owns a unit across from a mural depicting the people who once lived there, both of which he hopes don’t go.
“We’ll, I certainly hope not. I live in it so I’m definitely going to be opposed to that 100 percent,” Sokoloff said.
Levendis also pointed to a building, still in good shape, that he’d like to be saved and maintained for historical purposes. Sokoloff agreed with the idea.
“Sure, whatever we can save. Of course, we’re OK with saving as much as we can,” Sokoloff said.
“Hopefully, in the future, I hope to see, like, a park come in place of the buildings,” O’Bryan said.
The city of Campbell paid for Monday’s demolition, but demolishing buildings in the future will run through the Mahoning County Land Bank with money it received from the Ohio Department of Development.