YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – If you’ve driven down Market Street headed toward downtown Youngstown, chances are you’ve seen the building at the corner of Ridge Avenue. Well, the family who owns it says they were shocked to find out that the city would be demolishing it without them being contacted.
“Her husband’s friends were actually on the demo crew and he found a book or a letter from her husband with his name on it and he sent him a picture of it,” said Hillary Hays.
That’s how Hays and her family found out that the building her father has owned for more than 40 years would be torn down.
The reason for the demo is due to the building being a safety hazard. In the front of the building, there are some parts of the structure that are falling apart and even bricks that have fallen off.
“There was a family out front yesterday, they had kids, if one of those bricks would have fell on one of those kids or those babies, it definitely would have caused serious injury or death,” said First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver.
Technically, the city does not need to contact an owner of a building when issuing an emergency demo. But Hays says if they were just notified they would have done whatever they needed to in order to comply.
Oliver agrees something needs to be done to ensure the building is safe to the public but says there should be a better way of going about it.
“I think the way that the city handles emergency demolitions needs to be looked at again, I think the policy needs to change… Not only should the owners be notified, but they should be given the opportunity to fix it if it’s able to be fixed in a timely fashion,” Oliver said.
When Hays and her family found out about the demo, they went to social media asking how to get help and who they needed to contact. When Oliver became aware of the issue, he contacted the city’s fire chief, the one who orders emergency demos.
“I think the message the fire chief is trying to send is that Youngstown is in the process of trying to clean up the city, and his job is to keep the public safe,” Oliver said.
Oliver said after speaking with the fire chief he was able to get a temporary halt on the demo, but the family has to decide what they will do with the building. Hays said she isn’t sure yet if they will make repairs, sell the building or demo it themselves.
According to the city ordinance, the city must place a notice at all entrances of the building, which Hays says wasn’t done. She says the family is fully willing to comply and appreciates a chance to save the building.
This isn’t the only building ordered to have an emergency demolition by the city recently. A few months ago, a South Avenue building was torn down without the owner being notified.
3309 South Avenue was formerly Isaly’s Restaurant. The manager said they had over $100,000 worth of equipment inside. Then one day, the building was just gone.
Records showed that a “condemned” notice was placed on the building. Then, four days later, the building was demolished.
The property manager said they were in the process of making repairs to the building when it was torn down and records sent to First News show estimates for repairs to be made, insurance coverage policies, and a voicemail on information about obtaining permits.
As of now, no changes have been made to the city ordinance stating that owners have to be notified of emergency demolitions.