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Council Adds 49 Additional Houses to Blight List

Properties are being reused through city’s vacant property recovery program

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
February 03, 2022
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A list of properties designated as “blighted” by McKeesport City Council on Wednesday. In 2022, the city will be targeting approximately 300 abandoned and vacant properties for demolition or reuse through the vacant property recovery program, Mayor Michael Cherepko said. (Click to explore map)

McKeesport will continue its aggressive fight against blighted and abandoned properties in 2022, Mayor Michael Cherepko has vowed.

At Wednesday’s meeting, city council added another 49 homes and lots to the “blighted” list and made them available for purchase by other property owners through McKeesport’s vacant property recovery program.

“It’s hard to attract new residents when you have blight on the street,” Cherepko said. “We intend on being very aggressive with the McKeesport Rising program in 2022. We will be coming to (council) with a lot of others as well.”

The city’s vacant property recovery program, administered by the city Redevelopment Authority, allows applicants to petition for the right to purchase abandoned properties that have been declared blighted, and which have been tax delinquent for three years or more.

Both residential and commercial properties can be recovered through the program.

Applicants must have a plan to reuse the property and be able to demonstrate that they have funds to complete a purchase. A deposit is required when the application is made to the city’s Vacant Property Review Committee.

Allegheny County uses a similar process to recover abandoned properties in 30 municipalities, including Elizabeth Borough, Forward Twp., Glassport, Versailles and Wilmerding.

A significant number of the homes on the list approved Wednesday night are being acquired by people who intend to rehabilitate them, Cherepko said.

“The question comes up often, when we’re tearing down blighted homes, ‘Why can’t they be saved?’” he said. “If someone wants to bring a property to the VPRC — as long as they don’t (own) other blighted structures — they’re eligible to VPRC a home.”

Besides reusing older homes and returning them to the tax rolls, he said, recovering vacant properties also saves city taxpayers money. “That’s $7,000 to $12,000 that we, as a city, don’t have to pay to demolish these structures,” Cherepko said.

In other cases, city officials said, neighbors use the vacant property process to acquire vacant lots adjoining their own homes.

Council can expect to see additional lists of properties to be condemned in the months ahead, Cherepko said — some through the vacant property recovery program, and others simply to be torn down.

“Some of these were already condemned, and we have others that we’re going to cite and take to court. We’re going to use all of the resources available to us,” he said.

The administration’s goal is to remove another 300 abandoned houses this year.

“At the March meeting, we will be coming to council with a few different contracts for demolition,” Cherepko said. “We’re looking to hit every ward in the city once again. When we talk about strategy for demolition, we’re trying to take our limited resources and make the greatest impact on the city as a whole.”

Applications for the vacant property recovery process can be obtained from Melissa Ernst in the city’s community development department, Suite 203, McKeesport City Hall, 500 Fifth Ave. For more information, call (412) 675-5020, ext. 635. Applications are reviewed twice each year and must be received by June 30 or Dec. 30.

Properties deemed “blighted” by McKeesport City Council on Feb. 2 included:

2003 Allison St.
410 Artic Ave.
219 Atlantic Ave.
601 Atlantic Ave.
602 Rear Atlantic Ave.
1802 Abraham St.
1714 Beaver St.
1932 Beech St.
1506 Centennial St.
2618 Cleveland St.
1830 Evans Ave.
705 Franklin St.
Franklin Street (vacant lot, 700 block)
2310 Grandview Ave.
1409 Hamilton St.
901 Huey St.
905 Jefferson St.
906 Jefferson St.
Jenny Lind Street (vacant lot, 800 block)
1340 Jenny Lind St.
2108 Jenny Lind St.
2416 Jenny Lind St.
Jenny Lind Street (vacant lot, 3000 block)
638 Madison St.
1121 McCleary St.
3307 Oakland St.
3315 Oakland St.
1512 Packer St.
819 Park St.
Park Street (vacant lot, 800 block)
Patterson Avenue (vacant lot, 1400 block)
416 Pine St.
Pine Street (vacant lot near river)
609 Reynolds St.
1412 Scott St.
1220 Soles St.
1512 Soles St.
3006 Stewart St.
1711 Sumac St.
1323 Union Ave.
1817 Union Ave.
Union Avenue (vacant lot near Versailles Ave.)
2007 Versailles Ave.
2708 Versailles Ave.
Versailles Avenue (vacant lot near Fern Alley)
1221 Walnut St.
1011 Washington St.
1402 Wilson St.
1403 Wilson St.

Originally published February 03, 2022.

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