A judge on Tuesday halted the demolition of a Mexican War Streets house that residents said could be saved.
Allegheny County Judge Alan Hertzberg granted Todd Meyer's petition for an injunction to stop demolition of the condemned home at 1405 Buena Vista St. Meyer's attorneys said they're working toward an agreement with the city.
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According to the petition, the city did not follow the rules of the National Historic Preservation Act that require the opportunity for public comment on changes to any historic property.
“There was never any posting on the building of any demolition,” said attorney Kirk Burkley, who filed the petition along with Arthur Zamosky. “Next thing (Meyer) knows, he wakes up one morning, and there's a demolition crew.”
Pittsburgh's Bureau of Building Inspection applied to raze the house in October, and the city's Historic Review Commission approved demolition in May. The house was last sold to Geraldine Smith in 1974 and is assessed at $50,600. Smith could not be reached. According to the petition, the home was built in 1868 by a cabinet maker named Thomas Lemmon.
“This property has been condemned since 2008,” assistant city Solicitor Stephanie Eggar said. “This is not a rushed process.”
Meyer, an architect who owns properties in the neighborhood, said he offered to buy the house once the city removed it from the tax rolls, but city officials didn't inform him it became eligible for demolition when it failed to sell at a sheriff's sale.
Demolition on the home began Monday and continued Tuesday. Hertzberg ordered the city to use the next 48 hours to make the property safe. Bureau of Building Inspection demolition manager Paul Loy said crews had removed the roof, making the house less stable.
Meyer has 24 hours to post a $100,000 bond to put the order to halt demolition into effect, but his attorneys said they might reach an agreement with the city on Wednesday to keep the foundation of the property so that a replica of the house can be built on top of it. A hearing is scheduled Oct. 1.
“We're going to try to work it out in the next couple of days,” Zamosky said. “In the interim, it's possible to come to some deal.”
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or email@example.com.