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172 Houses Head to Demolition; At Least 50 More to Be Added

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
July 13, 2018
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport City Council this week added another 172 vacant buildings to its demolition list. The houses will be torn down using a mix of local and federal funds. Click the map to explore the locations.

From approximately "coast to coast" --- including both Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Avenue --- 172 additional vacant houses and commercial buildings have been approved for demolition by McKeesport City Council.

At least 50 more are expected to be scheduled for demolition in the next round, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko promised city council this week. Virtually every neighborhood in the city will be touched this year, he said.

"Nothing's perfect, but overall, I think we did a good job when you talk about preserving the neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, as well as those on the main thoroughfares," Cherepko said.

Public hearings were held on each of the properties during a three-day period in early June. City officials said that in most cases, no one attended to dispute the inclusion of a particular property on the demolition list.

A check of Allegheny County tax records indicates that practically all of the properties are severely tax delinquent, and in some cases, the last listed owner is deceased.

Many of the properties are listed as "unsound" or "poor" on county tax records and most are wood-frame houses built before World War II.

The demolition work is not cheap. According to published reports and contracting websites, demolishing a single-family house costs between $8,000 and $15,000, depending on the degree of difficulty, the size of the structure, and the presence of lead paint, asbestos or other environmental hazards.

Funding for the demolition will be provided in part by federal Community Development Block Grant funds, as well as by a portion of the proceeds from last year's sale of the city's sewerage authority to Pennsylvania-American Water Co. The demolition program is part of what Cherepko and his administration are calling the "McKeesport Rising" project.

Demolition work will be done by a combination of city public works crews and private contractors. City council this week by 7-0 vote awarded a $742,000 contract to Jadell Minniefield Construction Services of Pittsburgh's Hazelwood neighborhood to demolish 92 vacant structures.

Minniefield was the only bidder, city officials said, but the company has previously done satisfactory work in McKeesport.

Cherepko said the contract was bid using the Enviro 21 reverse-bidding process, and that Minniefield's bid came in "at least six figures lower" than officials expected.

The contract to demolish another 100 houses will likely be voted on at September's council meeting, he said.

Residents who have a vacant house in the neighborhood should call the mayor's office at (412) 675-5020, ext. 605, and ask to have it placed on the list for future consideration. "Every complaint that comes into my office is logged," Cherepko said. "In this case, the squeaky wheel does get the grease."

Originally published July 13, 2018.

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