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WESTMORELAND COUNTY LAND BANK
Westmoreland County Land Bank Sells Its First Properties
GREENSBURG (February 24) The Board of Directors of the Westmoreland County Land Bank today announced the sale of two parcels in the Borough of West Newton to the First Church of God, clearing the way for a new parking area in the community. The sale marks the first purchase of a property from the Land Bank and is thought to be the first of its kind in the state.
According to April Kopas, Executive Director of the Land Bank, “These properties were acquired because they were abandoned and unsafe structures; and the reuse will benefit the entire community. The Borough of West Newton spearheaded this effort, and the local government was the driving force behind stabilizing this neighborhood.”
Borough officials worked to have the property located at 203 North Second Street donated while 201 North Second Street was in the county’s repository of unsold tax-delinquent properties – both were acquired by the Land Bank.
The county’s Redevelopment Authority removed the unsafe structures on the site in December 2014. “They were a danger to the neighborhood,” Pastor Elizabeth Dunlap said referring to the eye-sore of dilapidated buildings that plagued the neighborhood for more than a decade. “It was such a blessing to see what opportunities it has brought to our community. The Land Bank was very supportive and helpful throughout the whole process”.
Howard Crissman, president of the council at First Church of God, said it was important for the church to acquire land for parking and estimates it will invest $50,000 to construct the lot with 15-20 parking spots this spring. “It'll help to brighten up the neighborhood,” Crissman said.
The strategy of the Land Bank rethinks the value and potential of vacant and abandoned properties – approaching them as assets rather than a disposable commodity – with the goal of combating blight and returning investment to neighborhoods. The lots were purchased for $1,598; transaction fees and closing costs brought the transaction total closer to $3,600. Under the sales agreement, the church has agreed to allow the property to be taxable.
Pamela Humenik, borough secretary, is thrilled that this is the first Land Bank property sale of its kind in Pennsylvania. “It is wonderful that our town is first,” said Humenik. We will keep working with the Land Bank to drive investment back into our community”.
To view available properties or to learn more about the Land Bank, visit www.co.westmoreland.pa.us/landbank.
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