Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

East Liberty Developer Ordered to Halt Work

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

East Liberty Developer Ordered to Halt Work

Article excerpt

The city has ordered a local developer to stop work at the former Penn Plaza apartment site in East Liberty in an escalating battle over a proposed redevelopment that includes a Whole Foods Market.

In a letter sent Monday, city solicitor Lourdes Sanchez-Ridge accused Pennley Park South Inc. of taking actions, such as cutting trees, that are in violation of the city code and ignoring the recent decision by the planning commission rejecting the developer's amended preliminary land development plan.

She demanded that Pennley Park, an affiliate of developer LG Realty Advisors, "cease and desist all acts in furtherance of the PLDP."

Ms. Sanchez-Ridge also wrote that Pennley Park planned to work on a sewer line at the Penn Plaza site, which includes the city-owned Enright Park. She said neither the developer nor its attorney, Jonathan Kamin, had permission to enter the city property.

The letter is the latest salvo in the fight over the site, which is the home of the former Penn Plaza apartments, where more than 100 residents were displaced last year to make way for the redevelopment.

Last week, Pennley Park, owner of the apartment site, charged in a lawsuit that the amended proposal rejected by the planning commission in January actually had been deemed approved because the panel did not provide written notice of its decision within the appropriate time frame.

The claim drew a rebuke from Mayor Bill Peduto, who vowed to fight Pennley Park's "legal tricks" in court.

Mr. Kamin was just as defiant Tuesday in responding to Ms. Sanchez-Ridge's letter, arguing, "There's nothing for us to cease and desist because we are in complete compliance with the law.

"We have an approved [preliminary land development plan] and a deemed approval to the amendment of our PLDP and we are full speed ahead on our development," he said.

At the same time, Mr. Kamin accused the city solicitor of dealing in "alternative facts" in charging that Pennley Park was doing sewer work at the site. He said that was not the case. While such work needs to be done because of cracks and leaks in the existing lines, it won't happen for months, he said. …

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