Removing a dangerous blight
Last year, St. Nicholas Parish in Millvale had asked the Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission to recognize both the dangers to the community from the building barely standing on Route 28 (East Ohio Street) and the economic hardship maintaining the unused building inflicted on the parish.
The Historic Review Commission rejected the parish's plea that it be allowed to demolish the buildings.
On July 23, Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Colville ordered the Historic Review Commission to issue to the parish a Certificate of Economic Hardship that will allow the parish to apply for a demolition permit.
Though the city of Pittsburgh may appeal the decision, Colville correctly recognized exactly what the parish has argued for years: that there was no viable use or value to the building, that effective control of the property by the Historic Review Commission through historical designation had resulted in "a taking" of the parish property through code demands, and that St. Nicholas Parish has been saddled with "increased economic liability" that threatened the very existence of the parish.
The parish has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars maintaining the unused East Ohio Street building. Nearly 17 percent of the monthly offering of the parish faithful is spent on this unused and unnecessary building.
The Millvale parish is home to the Croatian Catholic community of Pittsburgh. St. Nicholas Church on Maryland Avenue in Millvale features the famous murals of artist Maxo Vanka celebrating the American laborer. This ruling will help to maintain this center of worship for the Croatian community and preserve a cultural monument for all of southwestern Pennsylvania.
Over all this time, the parishioners of St. Nicholas Parish have acted as responsible citizens, warning that its unused building was in danger of collapsing onto Route 28, and asking for permission to have it removed for the safety and welfare of the community.
At the same time, the parish asked for recognition that it was dying because of the cost of maintaining this useless property.
The city would be foolish to allow this to continue any longer. This has stretched out far too many years already to the serious detriment of St. Nicholas Parish, the Croatian community and the people of southwestern Pennsylvania. Judge Colville wisely understood all this, and St. Nicholas Parish can hopefully proceed soon with the demolition of this building that has been a dangerous blight on the city landscape for far too long.