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New Kensington demolition project, delayed by covid-19, nears conclusion

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

Work to demolish the last of three unsafe buildings in one project began Monday in New Kensington.

The project to take down dilapidated houses at 1254 Martin Ave., 1306 Taylor Ave. and 1331 Victoria Ave. had been delayed by the covid-19 pandemic, said Sarah Snider, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of New Kensington.

A $28,600 contract to do the work was awarded to AP Wise Excavating of Butler in February. After being put on hold because of the virus, work started in June, Snider said.

Grant money is paying for the work.

“These are unsafe structures that we really need to address,” Snider said. “These three structures were so far gone, and we did a formal assessment of that. It did not make sense to rehabilitate them.”

The redevelopment authority has overseen the demolition of 19 unsafe buildings since January 2018, when Snider started.

“It motivates people and gives people hope that the revitalization of the community is in process,” she said.

Two commercial buildings, the former Terrace Hotel at 800 E. Hill Drive and the former Funzi’s bar at 1301 Taylor Ave., are next on the demolition list. Snider said the authority plans to begin seeking bids within the next month, award a contract by early September and tear them down by the end of the year.

The authority also is working on a list of 10 more residential properties that could be demolished next year, she said.

Demolishing unsafe buildings is one of several ways the authority and city are fighting blight, Snider said. She pointed to new playgrounds, alley cleanups and new developments and businesses in the city.

“All of those are methodologies we are trying to encourage, and all of those are coming together to create this wonderful economic development and recovery in New Kensington,” she said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701,brittmeyer@triblive.comor via Twitter

Picture curtosy of Louis B. Ruediger

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