PennDOT must pay $3.75 million for acquired Millvale property

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation must pay the owner of the former Millvale Industrial Park $3.75 million following a jury verdict this week.

PennDOT filed a declaration of taking for the six-acre property on Butler Street on March 31, 2009, as part of the Route 28 construction project.

The agency's appraiser estimated the value to be $2 million.

But Andrew A. Lang Jr., who bought the property in 1971 for $90,000, testified at trial that the seven buildings on the property -- some that date to 1846 -- would cost as much as $12 million to rebuild, said his attorney Maurice Nernberg.

"Andy Lang buys buildings. He knows a lot more about them than an appraiser," the attorney said.

He described them as old, huge block buildings. The industrial park was demolished in 2010 so that Route 28 could be widened.

As part of the condemnation process, PennDOT is required to pay the property owner at the time it takes possession.

In this case, however, that was occurring around the time of financial crisis in Pennsylvania, Mr. Nernberg said, and he was forced to obtain a court order requiring PennDOT to pay.

There are still several outstanding claims against PennDOT by former tenants in the industrial park, which included Simon's Concessions, Ship Art, Podany's Fine Finishes, Sterling Printing and Bethlehem Wire and Fence.

The jury trial in the case, before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Michael A. Della Vecchia, began Sept. 19, and the jurors, attorneys and judge did a 30-minute visit of the property a day later.

The verdict was returned Wednesday.

"We were satisfied," Mr. Nernberg said.

Transportation - neigh_north

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.


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