Two closed state prisons go up for sale

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HARRISBURG -- Looking for a 40-building complex on 450-plus acres in Cambria County?

Or maybe 32 buildings on 120 acres in Westmoreland County?

If so, the state has a closed prison to sell you.

Two older state correctional institutions -- SCI Cresson in Cresson, Cambria County, and SCI Greensburg in Hempfield, which both officially closed June 30 -- are now among a group of 37 surplus state properties listed for sale.

Also for sale: a dozen armories, a state hospital, a youth development center, and numerous residential units, according to the Pennsylvania Department of General Services.

A fair market value for the prisons -- and thus acceptable amounts for bids -- must still be determined through an appraisal, said Troy Thompson, spokesman for General Services.

"We're taking an aggressive approach to selling these properties in order to get them back on the tax rolls for the local economies," and to save the state carrying costs -- about $2 million per year for SCI Cresson and $100,000 per year for SCI Greensburg, Mr. Thompson said.

Local officials had complained vigorously about the closings, and the harm the loss of jobs would cause to local economies. Several said Wednesday they would like to see the state make a strong effort to market the properties in conjunction with local economic development efforts.

"I don't think it's good enough to simply put a for sale sign in the yard," said Ted Kopas, a Westmoreland County commissioner, who noted he believes the Greensburg facility is an attractive piece of property close to a highway. Mr. Kopas said he would like to see the state pay for building demolition, as any likely potential buyer would want to get rid of the prison buildings.

"People ask me all the time what's happening," Mr. Kopas said. "If there is a plan, I'd love to know it."

Similarly, Tom Chernisky, a Cambria County commissioner, said he hopes a buyer can be found for the Cresson property.

"That property could have many different uses," he said. "It's in a great location. It's right off of Route 22."

He added, "I'm disappointed the prison was relocated from there to begin with and how it was done. ... Now we need to move forward."

For more information on state properties available for bid, visit the Department of General Services' eMarketplace website at www.eMarketplace.state.pa.us. Click on the "Solicitations" icon and select "Real Estate" in the" Advertisement Type" box.

region - state

Kate Giammarise: kgiammarise@post-gazette.com, 1-717-787-4254 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.


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