Mercer Co. agency to condemn 17 properties

FARRELL, Pa. -- Mercer County Housing Authority will condemn 17 properties it controls and plans to use as part of the HOPE VI housing project.
The properties, some of them vacant lots but some with dilapidated houses, were all purchased by Community Homebuyers Inc., the nonprofit organization created by the authority to handle its home-building programs.
The sites were bought at Mercer County tax sales, which means the owners hadn't paid taxes on them for at least two years. All were vacant, said L. DeWitt Boosel, authority executive director.
However, there are no clear titles to the properties and heirs of previous owners could come back on the authority with a claim if the titles aren't cleared, Boosel said.
The easiest and quickest way to do that is through condemnation, he said, and the authority will file the appropriate paperwork with the Mercer County Prothonotary's office. Anyone wishing to challenge the action will have 30 days to do so from the date of filing.
The 17 properties are on Wallis, Spearman and Fruit avenues, all near the former Steel City Terrace complex.
The authority and its development partner, Ralph Falbo of Pittsburgh, is tearing down the old 100-unit complex and building 70 new units on that site.
The project will expand to include 145 housing units in a $30 million development.

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