Charleroi, PA, July 25th, 2019 –The Mon Valley Alliance (MVA), owner of the blighted Coyle building in Charleroi, PA, has announced plans to demolish the structure and prepare the site for new development, according to Ben Brown, it’s CEO.
“A demolition contract has been executed. Environmental remediation will be the first phase, followed by disconnection and relocation of utility lines, the building demolition, preparation of the lot, and marketing/sale of the property for new development” Brown said. The entire demolition and remediation process is expected to take a few months, pending weather and utility scheduling.
Since its purchase of the property in 2016, the MVA has worked, along with its partners and community leaders, to determine an appropriate use of the property that best supports its mission of economic development and job creation in the Mid Mon Valley Area.
Over the course of its ownership, MVA diligently evaluated a variety of options for the property, committing significant internal funds and effort for this purpose. Partnerships with community development organizations, private foundations, and others were explored along with various restoration plans, yet no sustainable plan with committed funding could be put in place. It has become clear that demolition and redevelopment is the best path to support the economic viability of Charleroi going forward.
MVA offered tours to the media and public in 2017; a community event was held to gauge community support and garner ideas; inspections, surveys and studies were performed; an architect was engaged to create plans for the building; and roof repairs were made to prevent further deterioration in the case of a potential restoration.
A renovation plan that would have included retail, office and community/performance space with a price tag of over $7.5 million dollars was proposed in 2018, however, the necessary funding was unattainable and a valid sustainability plan did not come to fruition.
Simultaneously in 2018, Charleroi was designated by Governor Tom Wolf’s administration as a Federal Opportunity Zone. Opportunity Zones, established by Congress under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, are a new community investment tool designed to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide and have specific timeframes for investment and development.
“We believe that the Opportunity Zone Designation will bring additional interest to a new development on the site and will be marketing the property to a broader audience to find the right use. Without the MVA committing significant internal funds for the removal of these blighted properties, such development would not be possible” Brown said.
“The demolition of the building brings closure to more than 30 years of struggle, expense, and blight for this property and the community. Efforts to renovate the building, prior to the purchase by the MVA, were unsuccessful and allowed the building to deteriorate to such a physical state that we simply are left with no other choice. We believe it is time to allow the community to move forward.”
Why don’t you sell/give the building to another organization/group to see if they can renovate or repurpose it?
- Since at least 1988, people and organizations have performed studies, created plans, had architectural drawings prepared, and tried to figure out a way to renovate the structure. Over $1 Million Dollars of public grant funding was committed to the property, yet no group or individual was able to find a sustainable plan with fully committed funding for the property. It has been over 30 years of work with no results. We believe the time to embrace the future is now.
What will happen to the lot?
- The lot will be for sale. The MVA will work in conjunction with the Borough of Charleroi to analyze potential development proposals to ensure consistency with the Borough’s comprehensive plan and cohesion with the community. The use of the property, number and quality of jobs created, and positive economic effects on the surrounding area, will be important factors to be considered.
Can I go inside the building?
- No, between environmental factors and physical structure deterioration, access to the interior is not considered safe. In 2017, members of the media and the public accessed the interior under a strict safety protocol and took pictures that are posted here: https://www.monvalleyalliance.org/coyle
What will happen to the “COYLE” Sign?
- We will attempt to remove the vertical sign to be stored for later use/rehabilitation. Given its age and condition, we have no guarantees that it will be salvageable once the removal process starts.
Are there any other items in the building that will be salvaged?
- Most of the salvageable items were removed by previous owners in the 16 years between the closure of the building and MVA’s purchase. The seats are still inside, yet are made of cast iron and bolted to the concrete floor. Rust and mold have damaged the vast majority of the seats. The ones in the best condition are located in the balcony area. Access is limited as portions of the wooden floor have rotted through. Additionally, the projectors are still in place at the top of the balcony and removal presents similar problems as the balcony seats.
Can I have/purchase some bricks from the building?
- Due to the nature of the demolition, it is not practical to remove the bricks in a way that would maintain their structural integrity. Additionally, studies indicate that a majority of the bricks are pre-1900 and were fired onsite at low temperatures, causing them to be more brittle than bricks made in factories. However, we will work to safely salvage a sample to be used for historical/charity/community purposes.
I have a plan for the lot, who do I contact?
- Please contact us at 724-565-5636.
Is taxpayer or public money being used for the demolition?
- The remediation and demolition is being paid in its entirety by Mon Valley Alliance’s internal funds. This represents a substantial investment in the community.