City delays 4 lots' sale for details

The city wants to be sure that development and financing plans are in place.
FARRELL, Pa. -- City council says it wants more information on a developer's plans before it will sell him four vacant lots on the south side of Idaho Street just east of Spearman Avenue.
Todd A. Perkins, owner of Phitown, a business services company in Masury, offered council $500 for all four lots Monday.
He said he plans to move his business to that location and wants to erect at least a one-story building of about 1,000 square feet.
The project could grow to two stories if he decides to add several commercial rental spaces, he said, explaining that he would put those on the first floor and locate his business on the second floor.
Perkins estimated the materials cost for a one-story structure at $25,000 and said he and his family would do the building.
Reason for delay
However, council wants to see some more details and be sure that Perkins has financing arranged before it sells him the land.
The city won't sell to him unless it has some assurance that his project is ready to go, said Councilman Mark Petrillo.
Atty. Steve Mirizio, city solicitor, said the city won't sell land for speculative purposes. A developer has to show his or her plans and make a commitment to spend money before the land will be sold, he said.
Perkins said he hasn't arranged project financing yet.
Mayor William Morocco suggested that Perkins meet with the city manager and code enforcement officer to determine what steps he has to take to buy the land.
Petrillo suggested that Perkins consider taking out an option to buy the land, which would hold it available for a certain period of time while he develops his project plans.
Perkins said he will contact city administrators to find out what he needs to do.
He would like to break ground no later than August and have the building finished no later than December.
Lien write-offs
In other business, council voted to write off about $3,000 in municipal sewer and street liens against four properties targeted for development as part of the HOPE VI rebuilding of the Steel City Terrace apartment complex, owned by the Mercer County Housing Authority.
The authority has created an independent agency, Community Homebuyers Inc., to acquire land for the project, which will expand beyond the old Steel City boundaries along Spearman Avenue, reaching out into the neighboring residential community.
The project would put new housing units for rent or for sale on the four properties as well as a number of others.
HOPE VI will replace the old 100-unit barracks-style complex with 145 apartments and single-family dwellings spread over a much wider area. The project will cost $28 million.

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