NEW CASTLE Council OKs land process

The properties will be used as part of plans for parking.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Plans for downtown revitalization are moving forward.
City council introduced ordinances at a special meeting Thursday that will allow the city solicitor to start condemnation procedures on 13 properties and allow the city to buy two more.
Solicitor James Manolis said the land is between Croton Avenue and the Lawrence County Government Center, and some is adjacent to the Neisner-Centennial building downtown.
It is a mix of vacant properties and those with structures, and will be used for parking under the revitalization plan, he said.
Project: City officials are replacing utilities, resurfacing streets and adding decorative lighting downtown in cooperation with a private developer's plans for a Hollywood theme mall.
Cascade Development Corp., owned by Tom George, Bob Bruce and their families, is remodeling the first theater owned by the Warner Bros., Youngstown natives and Hollywood movie moguls, plus two nearby buildings that will house retail shops and restaurants.
The developers have agreed to spend at least $5 million as the local share of a grant state officials gave the city for the downtown work.
Manolis said council should vote Nov. 8 to adopt the ordinances approving the condemnation procedures and purchases.
Talks: The solicitor said the city is still in negotiations with some of the property owners and condemnation may not be necessary. There are 33 properties that will be bought or taken through eminent domain for the project, he said.
Eminent domain is the legal process that allows the government to take private land for a public use.
City officials expect to spend a total of $89,100 on the two properties owned by Willie Mae Steward and Raymond E. and Mary Lee Stroud. That includes attorney's fees and housing replacement costs.

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