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Baldwin enrolls in program to help transform vacant property

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

An old abandoned restaurant on Streets Run Road caught the attention of Baldwin Borough leaders.

“It's sitting there vacant. The building's falling down,” council President Michael Stelmasczyk said about the site of the former Chesapeake Steak and Seafood bar and restaurant near Brentwood Road.

The blighted property prompted borough leaders to look at ways to get vacant properties back on the tax roll and bring money into the municipality, Stelmasczyk said. Baldwin Borough for the first time this year joined about 30 other municipalities in enrolling in Allegheny County's Vacant Property Recovery Program this year. The program provides a discount for the application process for those approved.

The Vacant Property Recovery Program provides local communities with the resources to transform vacant or underutilized properties into vibrant and functional parts of the neighborhood, Baldwin leaders said.

The program, run in coordination with the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development and the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, provides tools to allow for the transfer of vacant and tax delinquent properties within the borough.

Properties must be vacant and delinquent on their taxes for three or more years to participate in the program.

To apply, program applicants need to submit a detailed reuse plan for the parcel and provide proof of the financial capacity to carry out that plan.

Applications submitted prior to Aug. 30 may be eligible for the County's 2014 Side Yard and Blighted Structure Program, which significantly discounts the applicant's parcel fee. The $3,000 parcel fee will be waived for applicants applying for side yards to their primary residence, and the parcel fee will be discounted to $1,400 for applicants proposing to rehabilitate or demolish a blighted structure.

“It's really for anyone interested in taking over a property and making it productive,” Stelmasczyk said.

Anyone interested must complete an application, available on the Baldwin Borough website, www.baldwinborough.org.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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