Youngstown Downtown Businesses Persevere Through Explosive Setback and Economic Hardships

Youngstown, Ohio – The explosion that rocked the Realty Tower not only caused physical devastation but also inflicted another blow to downtown Youngstown businesses, which were already struggling due to factors like road construction and the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the challenges faced by downtown establishments, business owners are showing resilience, crediting the ongoing support from customers and the local community for helping them stay afloat. Restaurants in particular have been hit hard, grappling with a series of obstacles since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

The explosion on May 28 claimed the life of employee Akil Drake and injured others, while displacing residents from the tower’s 23 apartments. The incident prompted the evacuation of nearby buildings, such as the International Towers apartment complex and the Stambaugh Building, which has been closed since the explosion.

The explosion was the result of a gas line being cut by workers from GreenHeart Companies LLC, contracted by the city for utility relocation. The contract had been awarded without a bidding process, citing an emergency situation. YO Properties, the owner of Realty Tower, expressed shock and sadness following the incident, pledging to investigate the cause of the explosion.

In the aftermath of the explosion, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Drake’s family, listing multiple defendants. While the litigation is ongoing, businesses in the affected area continue to face challenges, including ongoing road construction and closures resulting from the Smart2 project.

Looking ahead, the city is working on a plan to support downtown businesses, with Mayor Jamael Tito Brown emphasizing the importance of community support. Despite the setbacks, there are signs of hope as businesses like the Apollo Events Center undergo renovations and plans for reopening are in motion.

Overall, the downtown business community remains resilient, with various establishments working towards recovery and restoration in the wake of the tragic events at Realty Tower. The road to recovery may be long, but the spirit of collaboration and perseverance remains strong in Youngstown.