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Condemned Larimer Building Wins Reprieve

By Adam Brandolph
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Allegheny County judge put a temporary halt on the city’s plan to demolish a condemned property in Larimer after a Sharpsburg man said he wants to restore it.

John Cobb plans to rehabilitate a 110-year-old building at 16 Shetland St. to use as an investment property, said his attorney, Matthew L. Kurzweg. Cobb, who applied for permits to reverse the condemnation after the judge’s decision on Friday, declined comment.

“From my understanding, the building is pretty structurally sound,” Kurzweg said Monday.

Common Pleas Judge Robert Colville said the city could demolish the building after Feb. 1 if Cobb fails to show progress on the rehabilitation.

Pittsburgh building inspection officials said the property is in bad condition but don’t believe the city will appeal the judge’s decision. City Solicitor Dan Regan could not be reached for comment.

Sherry Hickson, 72, a longtime Larimer resident, said the building needs to go.

“If it’s in bad condition, it could pose a threat to everyone around it,” Hickson said.

Neighbor Robert S. Brown said he would like to see the building restored.

“There are so many places where every building is torn down, and it looks ugly,” Brown said. “If this guy wants to try to restore it, they should let him.”

The building is one of many slated for demolition. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl budgeted $3.04 million to level condemned buildings this year, including $2.19 million in city money and $850,000 in federal dollars.

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