4 Trafford buildings condemned
START DATE: September 21st, 2021
START DATE: September 27th, 2021
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Despite the owner’s insistence that he’s trying his best to schedule and fund repairs, Trafford Council has condemned the historic “bank building” that opened a century ago as a Westinghouse-affiliated inn.
The landmark at 501 Cavitt Ave. was one of four buildings that council on May 5 declared as abandoned, dilapidated or a nuisance. The others are a building at 315-317 Fifth St. and houses at 90 First St. and 635 6th St.
Though council has no money set aside to demolish any of the buildings, it joined the Westmoreland County Land Bank last month to receive help with blighted properties.
“These buildings need to go if we’re going to continue to move Trafford forward,” Mayor Rey Peduzzi said.
Of the four, the bank building has the most significant backstory in the borough. After making its debut as the Trafford Inn in 1904, multiple banks were housed in the building from the 1920s until the 1990s.
It sat vacant for years until Frank Yeager’s company, Lanalex Cloyd Inc., bought the 14,667-square-foot building in 2013 for $15,000. Even after the purchase, borough officials contend, Yeager has done little to make the building safer or more attractive, let alone inhabitable for a retail business or apartment tenants.
Within the last few weeks, borough officials installed a fence around the sunken Fifth Street sidewalk that is atop a collapsed sewer line, Trafford engineer Don Glenn said.
“That sidewalk is in imminent danger of collapse, so it must remain closed,” he said.
Rosemary Frollini, who lives on Duquesne Avenue, said the lack of downspouts from the bank building and the condemned Fifth Street building leads to problems during the winter, when water runoff freezes on the sidewalks. Pedestrians have to walk onto Fifth Street to avoid the sheets of ice beside the buildings, she said.
Frollini also complained about some loose bricks on the bank building falling onto the ground.
But Yeager, who said his only notice of the public hearing came from a reporter, said he has secured $20,000 in financing toward the sewer project and has collected price quotes for repairing the roof and sidewalk.
“I work for a living, so it’s not like I have $1 million laying in the bank to repair the Trafford bank building,” Yeager said. “I’m pursuing it as I can afford to do so.”
The only other property owner who contested a condemnation decision was James Bruno, who owns a First Street residential property. He said he has a couple of buyers interested in the property, including one who would remodel five units and the garage.
“I don’t know what your intentions are, but my intention is to sell it,” Bruno said.
In a separate action, Bruno is suing Trafford and a contractor because of property damage he blames on a 2011 municipal sewer project.
Borough Solicitor Craig Alexander said each of the property owners will receive notice that they can appeal the borough’s condemnation decision to the Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court within 30 days.