Monsour Hospital Properties Sold At Free-And-Clear Sale

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Westmoreland County Land Bank purchased the former Monsour hospital property in Jeannette for $15,712 on Friday at a free-and-clear judicial sale.

Two other properties also owned by Monsour Medical Center, located just west in Hempfield on the opposite side of Route 30, also were sold Friday after a bidding war. A vacant office building, house and garage stand on those properties.

In August a judge ordered that the properties be put up for bid at a free-and-clear sale after no owners, creditors or lienholders showed up at a hearing to object.

Officials are awaiting approval of an application for about $1 million in state funds to demolish the buildings and remediate the property. The project is anticipated to cost about $2 million.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/7025901-74/bank-county-site#ixzz3H6LLBfMG
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McKeesport OKs Taking Vacant Homes Via Eminent Domain

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

McKeesport is expanding its vacant property recovery program to include parcels with structures.

Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the transfer of 10 properties to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of McKeesport through eminent domain. Parcels include empty lots and those with houses on them: 2718 Grandview Ave.; 621 Versailles Ave.; 1106 Ohio St.; 2105 Harrison St.; 2701 Riverview Ave.; 415, 417, 421 and 423 Twenty-Seventh Ave.; and 281 Rockwood St.

“This is another way to tackle the blight problem we have in the city,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “This process has typically been used to acquire vacant land adjacent to other properties. We’re now opening it to properties with structures on them when the purchaser has a plan.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/6882351-74/properties-vacant-ave#ixzz3F0tJF2yD
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Blame For Blighted Properties In Monessen Reaches Across Globe

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mayor Lou Mavrakis drove slowly through Monessen, block by block, pointing out one vacant, blighted building after another in the city of 7,700 along the Monongahela River.

“That belongs to me,” he said, pointing to a house with a collapsing roof that has become the responsibility of the city and the mayor.

Tax records show the building is one of 264 structures and lots in the city that have been abandoned by their owners. More than 26 percent of the city’s 734 blighted properties are owned by people from 24 states and five foreign countries, beyond the legal reach of Monessen officials.

“It’s almost impossible to get in touch with these owners,” Mavrakis said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/6562693-74/property-owners-monessen#ixzz3ACc2e4tx
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Building Collapses In Philipsburg Causing Power Outage

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

— The former Philipsburg commercial building on Pine and 11th streets, gutted by a fire in June, was scheduled for demolition Tuesday.

Overnight, it got a head start.

Monday, shortly before midnight, the upper section of the vacant building along Pine Street collapsed from wind and rain, spraying bricks onto the sidewalk and street and knocking out power in the neighborhood.

Housing Development Planned In Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — In a few months, the vacant building on Dana Street that formerly housed First Hospital will be gone. A housing development is planned in its place.

The Wyoming Valley Health and Education Foundation is demolishing properties on Dana, Grove and McCarragher streets in the Rolling Mill Hill neighborhood with plans to donate the land to a Lancaster-based development company.

Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic plans to build 56 units of affordable rental housing in the area.

The properties include 133 and 149 Dana St., 66-68 Grove St. and 112 McCarragher St., according to Gerard T. O’Donnell, a consultant working with the Wyoming Valley Health and Education Foundation, which plans to demolish the structures.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/housing-development-planned-in-w-b-1.1724520

Cities Deploy Fakery Techniques To Cover Up Urban Blight

Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden U.S. cities, has awaited rebirth for a generation. For now, it has Christopher Toepfer and his paintbrush.

Ten feet up a ladder, Toepfer, a 51-year-old artist, is turning a rotting factory’s plywood-covered windows from a mess of gang graffiti into a railroad mural. The spruce-up, though it won’t cure the neighborhood’s ills of poverty and violence, will make a bright spot of the biggest blight on Federal Street.

Thirty years after New York City Mayor Ed Koch drew scorn for gussying up uninhabitable Bronx tenements with decals of curtained windows, urban fakery is spreading in U.S. cities where the recession’s wave of foreclosures added to decades-long decay. The city of Wilmington, Delaware, used the decal approach on a string of row houses earlier this year, and Bridgeport, Connecticut, started working with local artists in October to adopt Toepfer’s approach.

If the technique that Toepfer calls aesthetic board-up is a stopgap, it’s a cheap one, costing just $500 to $1,000 per property, a fraction of demolition costs. It’s also immediate, with a typical makeover done in less than a day.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/07/05/Vacant-House-Fakery-Reborn-as-Cleveland-to-Camden-Fight-Blight/stories/201407040018#ixzz36bqH18zQ

Philadelphia Owed A Half-Billion Dollars In ‘Nuisance Liens’ – Maybe

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Triumph Baptist Church wanted to grow. It bought an old suit factory in North Philadelphia in 1998, hoping to tear it down and build a house of worship.

But over time, Triumph changed its plans. The vacant factory became an eyesore and hazard, leaving the city little choice but to demolish it in 2011 at a cost of $794,191 to taxpayers.

The owners were supposed to reimburse the city for the work. Three years later, they haven’t.

Thus did 1801 W. Courtland Ave. join the list of 39,391 properties with “nuisance liens” – unpaid bills for sealing, cleaning, or demolition done at taxpayer expense by the Department of Licenses and Inspections. Work that building owners were supposed to pay for but didn’t.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/20140428_Philadelphia_owed_a_half-billion_in__nuisance_liens__-_maybe.html#IOycmdpuHCt3lXeF.99

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U.S. Senator Bob Casey Backs Community Development Funding

English: Official photo of Senator Bob Casey (...

English: Official photo of Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey wants more money allocated to the Community Development Block Grant program to allow municipalities to decide what projects are most needed and have the funding to complete them.

During a teleconference Wednesday, Casey, D-Scranton, said the Obama administration has proposed cutting CDBG funding by more than $200 million this year. Casey wants the allocation to be increased in 2015.

“CDBG has played an instrumental role in advancing locally driven projects that create jobs and contribute to economic growth,” Casey said. “The cuts proposed in the administration’s budget could limit the ability of municipalities in Pennsylvania to complete economic development projects that are essential.”

He said he’s pushing for Congress to increase the funding.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1298260/Casey-backs-community-development-funding

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Wilkes-Barre Details Use Of $2 Million In Funding

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The city’s director of Economic and Community Development on Wednesday detailed how his office spent nearly $2 million in federal money throughout the city last year.

The city receives three types of funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Decelopment each year and is required to hold a public meeting to explain how the money was spent in the previous year.

Office of Economic and Community Development Director Kurt Sauer presided over that meeting Wednesday in council chambers. The spending is detailed in a Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report, which is available for review.

In 2013, the city received $1,563,671 in Community Development Block Grant funding, $112,690 in Emergency Solutions funding and $264,880 in HOME funding.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1222522/City-details-use-of-$2-million-in-funding

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Owen J Robert SD Loses $2 Million A Year Under Lowered Coventry Mall Tax Assessment

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SOUTH COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, PA— The Owen J. Roberts School Board unanimously approved a real estate tax appeal settlement with Coventry Retail, LP, that lowers the assessed value of the Coventry Mall from $98 million in 2012 to $23.2 million in 2014.

The reassessment will equate to a loss of about $2 million a year in property tax revenues to the district.

In addition to the revenue loss, the agreement is retroactive to 2012, so the district will have to repay mall owners $1,619,799 of taxes paid in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In accordance with the agreement, $650,000 of that will be paid in cash within 60 days, according to attorney David L. Allebach Jr., who represented the board on this matter. The remaining funds will be credited to the mall against future taxes,

District officials had anticipated that cost and have reserved the full $1.6 million, according to district Chief Financial Officer Jaclin Krumrine. Therefore, the district has the $650,000 on hand to pay back the mall owner. The remaining nearly $1 million will help balance the 2014-15 budget to make up for the tax credit the mall will receive during that fiscal year.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/social-affairs/20140129/ojr-loses-2m-a-year-under-lowered-coventry-mall-tax-assessment

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Westmoreland County Will Ask For $1 Million From State To Raze Monsour Medical Center

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Westmoreland County will ask the state for $1 million to pay for demolition of the former Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette, which officials say has deteriorated to the point it poses a hazard for pedestrians and motorists.

Jason Rigone, executive director of the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp., will ask the county commissioners on Thursday to approve a business plan that will be submitted to the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program in Harrisburg by the Feb. 7 deadline.

The program is highly competitive. Last year, Gov. Tom Corbett approved 58 projects totaling $133 million across the state.

“It will be competitive going in for Monsour, but I think the state sees Monsour as a priority,” Rigone said.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/5465027-74/county-million-monsour#ixzz2rKuPVrIl
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East King Street Building To Fall For New Building To Rise

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The three story building at 26 E. King St. in downtown Lancaster has been a furniture store, a bank, and a drug store.

But in recent years, it has been empty and it has been neglected.

And, in the near future, it could be replaced.

On Thursday, members of the Lancaster city Historical Commission voted to recommend approval of plans to demolish the existing building and construct a new three story building in its place.

Read more: http://www.lancasteronline.com/business/east-king-street-building-to-fall-for-new-building-to/article_5fbf78ea-84a5-11e3-8553-001a4bcf6878.html

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In Search Of Progress, Downtown Wilkes-Barre Evolves

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA —In South Main Street’s first block, several storefronts are empty on the east side and recent demolitions on the other side have a dress shop waiting to reopen and a jewelry store working to re-establish itself.

Further down, the building that houses a longtime retailer has been sold and the former Bartikowsky’s building is expected to be soon owned by Wilkes University.

Changes have come to South Main Street — the city’s main retail artery — but sustained progress has remained elusive.

Jim Bellezza, owner of Bell Furniture at 95 S. Main St., purchased the building that houses the Outlet Army Navy Store at 113 S. Main St. for $159,000 on Jan. 3. An empty lot separates the two buildings and Bellezza plans to renovate the building and expand his business.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/1112993/In-search-of-progress-Downtown-W-B-evolves

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Demolition Of Downtown Wilkes-Barre Buildings Begins

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE — The landscape of the city’s downtown started to change this morning with the demolition of several historic buildings on South Main Street.

Shortly after 10 a.m. crews from Stell Enterprises Inc., of Plains Township, began tearing down the first of four buildings with the hope of saving two other buildings that are home to businesses.

Stell will be paid $194, 861 for the work to raze a cluster of properties , including three owned by the city, at 61, 71, 73 and 75 S. Main St.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/976972/Demolition-of-downtown-buildings-begins

Reading City Council, Administration Haggle Over Several Issues At Budget Meetings

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How essential are the nine full-timers and three part-timers that Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer wants added to the proposed 2014 budget, including a media manager, a post that was so controversial last year?

Does the city want to keep $500,000 on reserve yet another year for the Central Pennsylvania African-American Museum’s proposed expansion, or use that money to spruce up parks?

Is the city’s outside consultants’ report – on Spencer’s plan to shift the property tax to a land-value tax – an endorsement of that plan?

Should the city drop earned income and commuter taxes by 0.1 percent as planned, or keep them flat because of coming budget woes?

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=515907

Mix-Up In Payment Costs Reading $715,000

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

City officials acknowledged Monday that a $625,000 payment from the wrong fund 10 years ago for the Sovereign Plaza project now is costing the city $715,000 in money it could otherwise have used for economic development.

Matthew Bembenick, administrative services director, also told City Council that the Reading Redevelopment Authority had a verbal deal, not a written agreement, on who pays back several loans from that project, so there’s little paperwork except for some 10-year-old emails.

“The documentation that exists from 10 or 11 years ago is spotty at best,” said Bembenick, hired last year.

He added that he’s spent countless hours trying to find what paperwork the city has.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=504622

Residents Of One Scranton Neighborhood Praise City’s Blight Removals

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kevin O’Boyle doesn’t own the empty lot alongside his home on Mineral Avenue in Scranton, but he is the one who takes care of it.

“I keep it clean because it’s next to my house,” Mr. O’Boyle said.

Other neighbors do the same thing, as de-facto caretakers of several vacant lots that used to have condemned homes on them in the tiny neighborhood called Sandy Banks encompassing Mineral Avenue and Barrett Court at West Olive Street near the Lackawanna River.

“It’s our neighborhood.  We want to keep it clean,” Mr. O’Boyle said of the community pride there.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/residents-of-one-scranton-neighborhood-praise-city-s-blight-removals-1.1538251

Changing Skyline: PHA, Homeowners In Stalemate Over Plans For Empty Public-Housing Tower

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kimberly Mathis put up with plenty when the public-housing tower that shadows her little Germantown street was inhabited, but things got worse after the Philadelphia Housing Authority emptied the apartments in 2011 in preparation for demolition.  The drug dealers, who had done a brisk trade inside the Queen Lane high-rise, quickly shifted business to the sidewalks below.  They even dragged a set of bleachers to a spot across from Mathis’ house, which she bought from Habitat for Humanity and shares with a disabled daughter.

That was the last straw.  Furious, Mathis says, she grabbed an ax and proceeded to hack the bleachers into firewood.  The dealers scattered like so many roaches, taking up new positions a block away.  She says her stretch of Priscilla Street has been dealer-free ever since.

If only getting rid of the notorious Queen Lane tower were as simple.

In the two tumultuous years since PHA announced plans to replace the graceless, 16-story misfit with 55 rental houses, the agency’s relationship with neighborhood homeowners has gone from bad to worse.  For a while, it seemed that the project would enable PHA, which is still recovering from the Carl Greene scandal, to showcase a gentler, more collaborative style. Instead, the agency now finds itself in the position of ramming through a problematic design.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/home/20130816_Changing_Skyline__PHA__homeowners_in_stalemate_over_plans_for_empty_eyesore.html#VDGH3TPO8jgUeyys.99

Hotel Sterling Demo Could Change More Than Just The Landscape

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Ali Kazimi’s arrival at work was memorable Tuesday because the seven-story Hotel Sterling next door was almost entirely demolished.

“It was strange. You can see the eagles on the Market Street Bridge from our property.  We have a riverfront view,” said Kazimi, the third-generation owner of M. Abraham Importer on West Market, which opened by the once bustling Sterling in 1927.

Kazimi looks forward to losing that view to new development on the 4-acre Sterling parcel.  City officials condemned and demolished the former hotel and plan to seize the cleared lot from its nonprofit owner, CityVest, so the site can be marketed and sold to a private developer.

Read more:   http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/715688/View-from-River-and-Market-is-optimistic

Is Wilkes-Barre’s Irem Temple Next On The Demolition List?

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — At some point something has to be done with the Irem Temple, and Rick Williams and others hope it’s not torn down like the nearby Hotel Sterling.

Last week demolition crews razed a good portion of the rear of the hotel.

They’re moving to the North River Street side today to continue to reduce the landmark structure to rubble.  The hotel opened in 1898, and nine years later, the temple, designed in Moorish revival architecture complete with four minarets and dome, was completed on North Franklin Street.

Like the hotel, it’s been vacant for years, and architect Rick Williams fears its brick walls could be bashed to pieces by the steel buckets and blades of excavators, like those leveling the hotel.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/707441/Is-the-Irem-Temple-next