Vandergrift consignment shop to close over disagreement on rent, land contract
A Vandergrift business is closing, but the owners say it's not because they want to.
Debra Anderson, 67, and her husband, Geary, 69, live in an apartment and run Penny Lane Thrift and Consignment Shop at 140 Washington Ave.
“We're being forced out,” Debra Anderson said.
They received a notice to vacate from property owner Anthony Ferrante in June for not paying their rent.
But Anderson said they never received an agreed-upon land contract to buy the building.
According to documents obtained by the Tribune-Review, the Andersons entered into a signed agreement with Ferrante in March 2016 stating they would pay $6,000 in interest over the next 12 months and then enter into a land contract.
Anderson said once the interest was paid and they didn't receive the land contract, they stopped making payments.
Anderson's lawyer, Matthew Feinman, said there would have been no need for the Andersons to make payments until the land contract was signed.
“Just because I tell someone I'm interested in buying their house, I don't start making mortgage payments until I buy the house,” Feinman said. “In this case, they made all their interest payments, and then they're supposed to get their mortgage document.”
Ferrante said he had no comment on the issue and said he turned everything over to his attorney. He declined to say who his attorney is.
“It's private business,” he said.
Ferrante declined to say how much the Andersons owed or how many months they had missed their payments.
“That's not the kind of stuff I would put in the newspapers,” he said.
Anderson said Ferrante paid back the interest they had paid after the eviction notice was given.
The Andersons lawsuit was expected to be filed soon, Feinman said.
The eviction comes two months after the Andersons publicly complained about the two buildings next door at 142 and 144 Washington Ave., owned by Casino Theatre and Restoration Management Inc. Ferrante is its president.
Anderson said the buildings are overrun with rats and mold and are spots where teens frequently hang out. The buildings are partially torn down in the back.
Ferrante said the building he owns, which houses the Anderson's apartment and business, has nothing to do with the buildings next to it.
The borough cited the properties as unsafe structures in October and ordered them to be torn down. The citation was issued after two notices were sent via mail to the owner, warning that the structures were unsafe.
The hearing for that citation was continued five times this year before being heard on June 29 in front of District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec, according to court documents.
The Casino Theatre and Restoration Management group wasn't penalized for the citation.
Borough council President Brian Carricato said the nonprofit group is “trying the best they can” to get the buildings torn down with the limited resources they have. He said it wouldn't have made sense for them to be fined for the citation because that money could be used to pay for the demolition.
Ferrante said the group is waiting for grants to help cover the cost of tearing down the buildings.
He has said it would cost about $100,000 to tear the buildings down and create a parking lot and park in its place.