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Proposed upscale Tarentum condominium site on sheriff's sale list

| Monday, June 21, 2010

The site of a proposed upscale condominium development between First Avenue and the Allegheny River is going up for sheriff's sale.

The property located between Adams and Wood streets was targeted for a three-story, 40-unit condominium development by The Acorn III, LLC, a group headed by former New Kensington resident Scott Rittman.

According to the Allegheny County Sheriff's Department, the property will go on the block at 9 a.m. July 6 and the listing shows it carries a debt of about $447,000.

Attempts to contact Rittman were unsuccessful. The telephone number for The Acorn III LLC is disconnected and Rittman has no published home phone number.

He first approached Tarentum officials with his plan in November 2002. The last activity on the project was in 2006 when two houses on the 1.5-acre property were demolished, leaving only the foundations.

Since then, other neighborhood residents have complained about the property being overgrown with high grass and weeds from time to time.

"Probably three years ago I talked to Scott and asked him if he was interested in selling and he said, 'Yeah, for $750,000,' " borough Manager Bill Rossey recalled.

The Allegheny County Real Estate web page shows the property is broken into 41 parcels, each valued at $500 for a total value of $20,500.

"He came to council with beautiful design plans, so obviously he spent some money on engineering," Rossey said.

Rossey said he doesn't know for sure why the development never came to pass.

"I think some of it was because he was going to put that internal parking garage there," he said. "It became somewhat cost prohibitive."

In March 2003, Kevin McKeegan, an attorney for the Acorn group, told borough council the indoor parking would add $1 million to $1.5 million to the cost of the project. McKeegan did not return a call Friday from the Valley News Dispatch seeking comment.

The condominiums were to offer about 1,100 to 1,200 square feet of space and were projected to sell for between $200,000 and $300,000. In addition to garage parking, boat slips were to be provided for some tenants.

Now, however, Rossey said borough workers continue to cut the vegetation on the parcel to keep it from becoming more of a problem.

According to District Judge Carolyn Bengel's office, Acorn owes about $1,900 in fines for code violations related to the property, primarily failure to maintain sidewalks. There also are four citations on failure to maintain property that will be up for a hearing July 15 at Bengel's office.

Meanwhile, Rossey said he contacted several people who previously expressed interest in developing the property, to let them know it is on the sheriff's sale list.

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