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Judge gives Pershing Square hi-rise owner time to make elevator repairs

Stephen Huba
| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, 4:33 p.m.
The entrance to Pershing Square Apartments, 209 W. Third St., Greensburg, where an elevator failure led to a code violation charge in October 2018.
Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
The entrance to Pershing Square Apartments, 209 W. Third St., Greensburg, where an elevator failure led to a code violation charge in October 2018.

A judge on Wednesday gave the owner of Pershing Square Apartments in downtown Greensburg until July to repair or replace two unreliable elevators that have left several elderly residents trapped.

“Why is this taking so long?” District Magistrate Chris Flanigan asked Greensburg attorney Matt Schimizzi at a brief hearing.

“It’s a fairly substantial upgrade,” Schimizzi said, noting that the project cost is estimated at $280,000.

Schimizzi is representing the property owner, a California-based LLC known as I Choose Not To Run.

The absentee owner, which bought the West Third Street building two years ago, came under fire in October when city officials filed a criminal complaint alleging a violation of the International Property Maintenance Code.

The complaint came on the heels of two code violations the city filed in September — one pertaining to the elevators and another regarding a fire safety and evacuation plan — when an elderly resident got stuck in an elevator and had to be rescued by the fire department. The violations noted that one of the elevators was out of order, causing the remaining elevator to overheat and break down from overuse.

“Both elevators must be operational for your high-rise,” the September order said. “The city has been to your building three times in the past three weeks to (extricate) residents from the overheated elevator.”

Both elevators were back in working order by Oct. 24.

Schimizzi said his client has since hired an elevator sales and service company to do the work. One elevator should be done by April, and the other should be done by June, he said.

“They want to make sure the residents are safe, and they’re going to do whatever they can to make sure that happens,” he said.

Schimizzi and Barbara Ciampini, the city’s planning director, had worked out the details of the agreement prior to Wednesday’s hearing.

“The city is satisfied, as long as the work gets done,” she said.

Ciampini said the elevators are original to the building and are difficult to find parts for. The case will stay on the magistrate court docket until the work gets done, she said.

Pershing Square Apartments, managed by Preservation Management Inc. of South Portland, Maine, has an estimated 120 residents living on its 12 floors. Rents are subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

I Choose Not To Run, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., is listed as a real estate investment business by the California Secretary of State. It bought the building from Pershing Square Associates for $6.7 million in February 2017, according to county records.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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