After three years of negotiations to purchase a tract in Richland, the Allegheny Land Trust got a surprising message: not for sale.
The land, which was once the site of Pittsburgh Cut Flower’s greenhouse operation, consists of 180 acres of meadows and forests. The trust wanted to purchase the property as part of ongoing land conservation efforts.
“The last thing we knew was we had a verbal agreement for $2.4 million,” said Christopher Beichner, the President and CEO of Allegheny Land Trust. “A couple days later we got an email from Legacy Landings’ attorneys [saying] that the property is not for sale at this time.”
Mr. Beichner said that he was uncertain whether Legacy Landings LLC would put the land up for sale again.
According to Mr. Beichner, Legacy Landings gave no reason why they took the property off the market. Jeffrey Letwin, an attorney who represents Legacy Landings, was unavailable for comment.
“At the end of the day,” said Mr. Beichner, “these are New York City developers sitting on 180 acres, now cleaned up, blight free, and I suppose they probably think they can develop it.”
The area was polluted with asbestos, but after a recent cleanup, the area was declared to be safe. The property sits on the pristine headwaters of Montour Run, a tributary to Pine Creek, and the trust had hoped that, by purchasing the land, they would be able to preserve the purity of the water there.
Now, the trust has to decide what to do with the $2.4 million they raised, including money donated by individuals explicitly for this project.
“For the locally raised money,” said Mr. Beichner, “We’re committed to keeping that in Richland Township, We have our eyes on other pieces of property there that we’d like to protect.”
The trust will work with larger donors from the state and private foundations to repurpose those funds for other conservation projects.