Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, March T., 1967, No. 6370, in case of Leon Glider et ux. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Highways.
Lewis Kates, for appellants.
Alexander V. Sarcione, Assistant Attorney General, with him Francis P. Cadran, Special Assistant Attorney General, and William C. Sennett, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Justice Cohen dissents.
Leon Glider and his wife, Claire, were the owners of Philadelphia realty which was condemned by the Department of Highways of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for highway construction purposes. A Board of View was appointed on the petition of the condemnees. Subsequently, on application of the condemnees for the payment of estimated just compensation, the Commonwealth paid them the sum of $10,500. Later the Board of View made an award to the condemnees of $12,500, plus detention damages. The condemnees filed an appeal from the award in the Court of Common Pleas. After trial the jury found in favor of the Commonwealth and awarded no damages. A motion for a new trial by the condemnees was dismissed by the court en banc and after judgment was entered on the verdict, this appeal was filed.
The condemnation involved the taking of 7866 square feet of premises consisting of 11,036 square feet which, prior to the condemnation on May 29, 1967, were improved with a five-story one hundred year old building which had been used by the appellants-condemnees as a candy factory. The premises did not abut on any street and the only access thereto was by way of a private alley used in common with four others. On January 23, 1967, some four months prior to the filing by the Commonwealth of the Declaration of Taking, the premises were badly damaged by fire. Subsequent to the fire, the condemnees never resumed the candy manufacturing business, although they claimed that some repairs were made prior to the condemnation and that the building could be repaired and restored to a condition rendering it again usable as a candy manufacturing plant. The Commonwealth contended,
however, that the entire building was in such a damaged state that it was structurally unsound and unusable, and that the cost of repairing it was so economically impractical that the building would have to be demolished.
At trial, the condemnees presented expert testimony that the premises, although damaged by fire as of the date of condemnation, were structurally sound and still usable as a candy manufacturing facility and that its value for such use, including the machinery, equipment and fixtures forming part of the real estate, was $209,251. The condemnees' expert testimony concluded that that which remained after condemnation was a landlocked parcel having a value of $500. The value of $209,251 was apportioned at $157,700 for the building and $40,551 for machinery and equipment.
The condemnor's expert testimony was that the improvements, because of the fire, had no economic value or utility whatsoever and that the value of the land before the taking was $10,500 and the value of the land remaining after the taking was $500 resulting in damages of $10,000. To this was added a scrap value of $500 for the machinery and equipment making a net damage of $10,500. The Commonwealth's machinery and equipment valuation expert testified that the scrap or salvage value of $500 was what a demolition contractor would give as a credit against what he charged for demolition of the condemned premises. The Commonwealth's real estate valuation expert who fixed the value of the premises as land only before condemnation at $10,500 testified on direct examination that though he considered the cost of demolition he did not " use that as a consideration because if [he] did the [condemnees] would get nothing." Under cross-examination by counsel for condemnees he testified further on this matter as follows: "Q. Mr. Meltzer,
in your before value, you gave a price of $10,500.00, is that not correct? A. Yes. Q. What portion of that, if any did you attribute to the real estate, the building? A. The land, I will repeat, there was 11,037 square feet of land at ninety-five cents a square foot; that came to $10,500.00. The cost of demolishing the building would have been $11,000.00. I did not subtract that from the land value. In other words, any buyer would have had to pay $11,000.00 to knock down the building, and I felt to take that off, to recognize the building at that point, would have allowed the ...