Solicitor could file to take McCrory’s

Declaration may come this week if owners don’t provide appraisal by Friday, Finn said

City Council has authorized solicitor Tom Finn to file a declaration of eminent domain against the blighted McCrory’s building on 11th Avenue downtown.

Informally, council indicated that Finn ought to file by Friday if the building’s owners don’t produce the appraisal they’ve ordered by then, according to Finn.

The owners’ attorney Tom Forr doesn’t have the appraisal yet, but he’s “under the impression he will have it in the very near future,” Finn said Wednesday.

“The city wants this to keep moving forward,” Finn said. “This is another step showing council’s willingness to pursue the eminent domain.”

Council members have lost patience with the owners, who acquired the property about a decade ago, but under whose stewardship it has declined to the point where experts fear it will be unsalvageable if it goes through another winter with its badly leaking roof.

Council would like to get the building into the possession of a developer with the resources to turn it into something useful again.

The assessed value of the building is $153,000.

The appraisal done for the owners could be a “starting point” for negotiations with the city to acquire the building without having to actually exercise the eminent domain, according to Finn.

“I would like to work out something,” said co-owner John


Council members don’t want to use eminent domain if they can help it, according to past statements.

Helfrick hopes a favorable appraisal, coupled with replacement of the roof, cleanup of asbestos and lead and elimination of water in the basement would generate a better offer than one or two inadequate informal offers he received recently, he told council at a recent meeting.

He has received bids on the roof, but is awaiting two more before deciding which company to use for that most critical repair, he said Wednesday.

The city will await the owners’ appraisal before deciding whether it should get one of its own.

Helfrick plans to call the appraiser today to get a status update.

“There’s only so much I can do,” he said.

If and when the city files a declaration of taking, and notice is served, the owners would have 30 days to file preliminary objections, Finn said.

If the owners don’t file preliminary objections, the city would take possession of the property.

Then the only issue to be resolved would be “just compensation” to the owners, Finn said.

If the owners file preliminary objections, the court would review them.

The objections could claim the city lacks authority to file based on the circumstances of the case, that the proposed taking is not based on a “proper purpose” or that the city’s bond is insufficient, Finn said.

The court would need to review each side’s briefs, according to Finn.

A transfer of ownership wouldn’t occur until the court ruled, he indicated.

“In my opinion, this scenario would qualify” for taking, Finn said. “Stopping it is unlikely, but the preliminary objections could certainly delay it.”

If the city negotiates a deal to buy the property, the purchase would need to be approved by council at a public meeting, Finn said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.


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