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KEYSTONE COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES v. CITY PITTSBURGH (11/26/75)

decided: November 26, 1975.

KEYSTONE COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES, INC., APPELLEE,
v.
CITY OF PITTSBURGH, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Mead J. Mulvihill, City Solicitor, Eugene B. Strassburger, III, Deputy City Solicitor, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Gerald S. Lesher, Baskin, Boreman, Wilmer, Sachs, Gondelman & Craig, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Roberts and Manderino, JJ., concur in the result.

Author: Eagen

[ 464 Pa. Page 609]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On June 4, 1970, the City of Pittsburgh (hereinafter City) notified Louise and Bessie Caplan, the owners of a building at 1229 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, that the building was in a dangerous condition*fn1 and was therefore condemned. The property was also posted as condemned on June 4, 1970. The notice informed the owners that they had thirty days in which to remedy the condition or to appeal the condemnation order to the courts. If the owners failed to take action, then the City would proceed to demolish the building. See Act of May 13, 1915, P.L. 297, as amended, 53 P.S. § 25094. The Caplans did nothing.

On December 16, 1970, Keystone Commercial Properties, Inc. (hereinafter Keystone) became the equitable owner of the property. Keystone was at the time of the agreement of purchase fully aware that the property was condemned and subject to demolition by the City. Keystone did nothing towards correcting the dangerous condition and on March 12, 1971, it received a letter from the City indicating the City was preparing to demolish the building.*fn2 On March 25, 1971, Keystone applied for

[ 464 Pa. Page 610]

    and was issued a permit to seal the building. The legal effect of the sealing, which was subsequently carried out, was to stay the City's right to demolish the building for six months during which time Keystone would be allowed to make the necessary repairs to remedy the dangerous condition. The sealing was approved by the City on August 24, 1971. During the six months that followed, Keystone did nothing further to repair the building.

On October 16, 1972, the City sent another notice to the owner, now Keystone, which was identical to the notice sent to the Caplans on June 4, 1970. Keystone received the notice indirectly because it was not the legal title holder,*fn3 but it is unclear from the record and the trial court's findings whether it received it prior to or subsequent to demolition. But our analysis, infra, will show that whether the notice was actually received before or after demolition is not here relevant. The City then demolished the building on November 2, 1972 or prior to the expiration of a thirty-day period following the October 16th notice.

The record clearly indicates that Keystone was involved in real estate and understood all of the ramifications of the above notices and events. Additionally, Keystone has never made a claim that it did not receive nor understand any of the notices. Further, Keystone allowed a tenant to rent the building on a short-term lease for "dead" storage, while it was sealed. Moreover, a witness for Keystone testified that it intended to make repairs when it obtained a tenant. Presumably this meant when Keystone obtained a long-term tenant since

[ 464 Pa. Page 611]

    no repairs were made while the short-term tenant ...


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