Onorato Announces Expansion of Vacant Property Recovery Program

Local law firm, real estate appraiser & title companies donating services to effort

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato today announced the expansion of the County’s vacant property recovery program with the goal of returning additional blighted parcels to productive use. Since 2004, Allegheny County has recovered approximately 500 vacant properties in Braddock, Carnegie, Homestead, North Braddock, Pitcairn, McKees Rocks, Rankin and Wilkinsburg. The effort announced today will recover 15 properties in Etna, Harrison Township, Heidelberg, Penn Hills, Swissvale and Turtle Creek through a public-private partnership.

“If left unchecked, blight can spread throughout a community,” said Onorato. “Thanks to this new public-private partnership, we will help homeowners and community groups to acquire vacant lots and tax-delinquent parcels quickly and cost effectively.”

Individuals and community groups in the six targeted communities can apply to purchase vacant properties that have been tax-delinquent for at least three years. Applicants must provide a reuse plan for the property, such as conversion to a side yard, community garden, urban farm, recreational space, small park, etc. The successful applicant must purchase the property for its appraised value and be responsible for closing costs. A good-faith deposit will be required, which will be refunded upon the successful completion of the reuse plan.

Jones Day will provide pro bono legal services, Barone, Murtha, Shonberg & White Inc. will appraise properties at no cost, and Chicago Title and Federated Appraisal & Closing Services will conduct free title searches. The Allegheny County Department of Court Records will waive its filing fees. The total value of these donated services is between $6,000 and $7,000 per parcel.

“I want to thank the companies involved in this program for donating their services and for seeing the benefit in reducing blighted properties throughout Allegheny County,” added Onorato. “Hopefully this initial effort will lead to even more partnerships to recover vacant properties.”

At least two properties will be recovered in each targeted community. Individuals and groups interested in applying for the program can call Allegheny County Economic Development at 412-350-1062 or visit www.alleghenycounty.us/vacprop.