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Grant boosts Allegheny Land Trust bid to buy former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co.

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Allegheny Land Trust is set to receive $509,500 from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for purchase of the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. property in Richland.

The nonprofit land preservation group plans to buy the 180-acre tract on Bakerstown Road for $1.4 million by the end of 2013.

Dean Bastianini, manager of Richland Township, cheered news of the state grant.

“The award of the DCNR grant provides both a boost of energy, and the luster of credence, to Richland Township's partnership with Allegheny Land Trust to transform this once thriving property — which today has fallen into blight and decay due to hard economic times and neglect — back into an asset which complements the surrounding properties,” Bastianini said.

Allegheny Land Trust plans to permanently protect 80 percent of the property for passive recreation, and recycle 30 acres for economic development. The trust began working in 2009 to develop a sales agreement with Legacy Landings, LLC, the property's current owners.

The Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co., still located in Pittsburgh's Strip District, previously owned the land, which used to produce millions of roses per year.

The late Fred Burki, a Swiss immigrant, established the flower farm, which operated from 1884 to 1991 on the site.

Bastianini praised State Rep. Mike Turzai (R) and Turzai's staff for recognizing the importance of Allegheny Land Trust's efforts to protect the property.

“Turzai's endorsement of Allegheny Land Trust's vision for conserving and reusing the land was essential for the success and magnitude of the grant award,” Bastianini said. “I think Turzai deserves a tip of the hat.

“There's still a lot of work to do,” Bastianini said, “and other funding sources to pursue before the financial goals of the project are met.”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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