Private group tried to condemn, take over more than a dozen Pittsburgh homes through eminent domain

PITTSBURGH — More than a dozen Pittsburgh homeowners were told their houses were being condemned and taken over without warning.

Each one of them got what appeared to be an official notice, leaving them baffled.

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And it wasn’t the government trying to take their properties, it was a private group. That’s when one homeowner called 11 Investigates.

The letter explained an organization, calling itself the “Northside Redevelopment Association of Pittsburgh,” was condemning the properties and trying to take them through eminent domain – even though only government entities are allowed to do that.

It looked very official, filed with the Court of Common Pleas, so neighbors were concerned. With multiple nearby properties targeted, a neighborhood organization – the Northside Leadership Conference – called a local attorney to help.

“In this case there's a group that is unregistered, that no one has heard about, that is filing something normally only filed by a government entity,” said Attorney Walter Nalducci.

Nalducci said he is surprised the group got this far, actually filing paperwork with the Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds. And it wasn’t the first time.

“Everyone is scratching their heads," he said. "Whatever happened with this group, they were not called to task for filing, so they were able to do it again.”

Channel 11 went in search of Northside Redevelopment at its address listed in court records, which was a home in Carnegie. Also listed turned out to be an apartment complex in Robinson.

Nalducci expects this eminent domain case to be dismissed when they file an official objection with the court. A hearing has been set for April.