John K. Manna
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Nearly 10 months in the making, the former Shad Hanna’s Restaurant on Butler Avenue has finally been demolished.
Demolition was completed within the past week.
The building was damaged by two fires in less than a year, the last of which occurred on Dec. 20, 2012.
Because of safety concerns, the city of New Castle had awarded an emergency contract to Bob’s Trucking of New Castle for $5,000.
However, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection suspended demolition to determine whether asbestos existed in the building. It was ultimately determined that asbestos was present.
When the local firm was unable to complete the demolition, the city advertised for bids from other companies to remove what remained on the site. City council members labeled the remaining rubble as an eyesore and an air quality issue.
Council awarded a demolition contract in August to Earthmovers Unlimited Inc. of Kylertown, Pa., for $48,743.
As with most demolitions, this one was paid for at taxpayers’ expense with the hope that someday the city will be reimbursed.
Anthony Cioffi, code enforcement director, said the city demolishes buildings either “to ensure safety of the neighborhood” or to remove blight. If owners fail to bring properties into compliance once notified by the city, he said, the buildings will be demolished and liens placed on the properties.
The city paid for the Shad Hanna’s demolition with funds from the demolition line item in the budget.
At the same meeting in August, council awarded a contract for $53,900 to Siegel Excavating LLC of Edinburg to demolish 14 houses that were damaged by fire or were dilapidated.
Part of the cost was covered with money from the demolition line item, with the rest coming from Community Development Block Grant funds.
In July, a fire gutted the former Black Whale building on Apple Way and damaged a structure that formerly housed Pat’s Cameras at the corner of Apple Way and East Washington Street. The city spent a total of $30,000 to demolish those buildings.
Council approved payment for the demolition from its contingency account and the demolition line item.
As a result, the demolition funds have been depleted for the year, said Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo. If there is any additional demolition this year, the city would have to look for money elsewhere in the budget, he said.
The mayor said the city has placed liens on the Shad Hanna’s property as well as the two downtown properties in an attempt to recover the costs.
“There’s a chance for us to get it (demolition costs) back,” solicitor Jason Medure said.
Anyone purchasing the property will have to clear the lien, he said, to have clear title.
Medure said the city places the liens “with the expectation that we are going to be reimbursed someday.”
Complicating the city’s efforts to recover costs on the Shad Hanna’s property is the fact that the owner filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in 2009. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has yet to make a determination in the case.
If property owners have insurance, then under state law the insurance company must release money to the city. Medure said the insurance money covers the cost of demolition and taxes, and whatever remains goes to the insured.