WCVI property deed sent to Arizona bidder
It is Oct. 2, and the deed for the crumbling WCVI building at 131-139 E. Crawford Ave., Connellsville, is in the mail to Shane O'Brien, a real estate developer from Phoenix, Ariz.
On Tuesday, the Fayette County Tax Claim Bureau said neither the city of Connellsville nor Connellsville Area School District had objected to the sale to O'Brien.
Sarah Minnick, director of the bureau, said the county will be able to release more information on the sale once the deed is recorded by O'Brien.
“I know it has problems,” O'Brien said previously. “I've gone very aggressive. I'm looking for corporate benefactors. I want to improve the property and bring it back.”
O'Brien will not have to wait long for mail from the city of Connellsville. Connellsville Code Enforcement Officer Tom Currey said he was preparing to send a letter to O'Brien late Tuesday or on Wednesday to notify him that he has 30 days to begin demolition or begin work to stabilize the structure.
“Since he is the successful bidder, we have every expectation that he will register the deed,” said Currey.
According to Currey, the roof of the building is collapsing. He said the structure itself is weak and a danger to the city's residents.
New Haven fire Chief Bob Topper has reviewed plans for fighting a fire at the structure.
“We can't let it burn,” said Topper. “But we would fight a defensive fire. We do have a plan in place. In layman's terms, we would ‘surround and drown.' ”
Topper said plans called for a “collapse zone.” The safety of firefighters and the public would be paramount, he said.
Some people in the city may express displeasure about the loss of a historic building, but Currey has fears for safety.
“As sad as it is, as terrible as it is, we might lose the WCVI building, I can only look out for the public safety. I'm sorry. I can't just let a building rot in this town, collapse in this town, no matter how historic it might be. That's always the dilemma.”
Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-626-3538.