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More Vacant Buildings Face Demolition

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
June 02, 2021
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The former Frank Mikell barber shop on Walnut Street in the Third Ward — once a community gathering place — is targeted for demolition. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Another 24 vacant buildings — mostly in the city’s Walnut Street corridor — are scheduled for demolition in what McKeesport officials said is a focused effort to encourage new business development in the Second and Third wards.

At Wednesday’s meeting, city council awarded a $219,850 contract to Minniefield Demolition Services LLC of West Mifflin to tear down abandoned homes and commercial structures on Walnut, Jenny Lind, Locust and Whigham streets; Tube Works and Van Kirk alleys; and Olive, Seventh and Ninth avenues.

The latest contract is separate from a $294,000 state grant announced last week that will help pay for the demolition of seven commercial buildings in the Downtown area.

All of the buildings targeted in the Minniefield contract are in an area bounded by Ninth and 13th avenues between Walnut and Jenny Lind streets, Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

Although that area is becoming very attractive to business, blighted and abandoned buildings are a stumbling block, he said. Once cleared, the vacant lots will be transferred to the city’s redevelopment authority, Cherepko said.

“We have people knocking on our door right now,” he said. “I truly believe that from Ninth street to 13th street, we’re going to have that entire area developed within the next couple of years.”

Businesses are increasingly interested in the Walnut Street section of the city, Cherepko said. “We want to have these buildings demolished, the lots shovel-ready and in our hands,” he said.

Funding for the demolition of these 24 properties in question is coming from federal Community Development Block Grants.

The targeted properties are 320 Penny St.; 316 Ninth Ave.; 138 Seventh St.; 410 and 419 Van Kirk Alley; 410, 411, 413 and 418 Whigham St.; 427 and 428 Olive St.; 719, 738 and 739 Jenny Lind St.; 1007 and 1241 Walnut St.; 1107, 1130, 1200, 1205, 1206 and 1220 Locust St.; and 1224 and 1225 Tube Works Alley.

Minniefield Demolition Services was the lowest bidder on the contract, and city officials said they are confident the company has the resources to complete the jobs.

A separate company, Jadell Minniefield Construction Co. of Pittsburgh's Hazelwood neighborhood, currently has about 50 outstanding contracts to demolish vacant homes in McKeesport as part of the city’s “McKeesport Rising” program.

Cherepko said the Minniefield companies were recently divided among different branches of the family, and that the successor companies are divvying up the remaining homes to be demolished. Those demolitions will proceed as planned, he said.

Originally published June 02, 2021.

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