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Politics & Government

City Drops Appeal Opening Door to St. Nick's Demolition

The demolition of the historic St Nicholas church on Rt. 28 can go forward now that the city of Pittsburgh has withdrawn an appeal.

In July, a judge ordered that St. Nicholas Parish could raze the 110-year-old church, which the city and a group of community activists considers historic. That order called on the city to issues a certificate of economic hardship that would allow the parish to obtain a demolition permit.  The city appealed that decision.

This week the city withdrew its appeal, meaning the demolition can go forward.

Last fall, the city's Historic Review Commission had denied a certificate needed for the demolition.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh and the parish, which now meets in a building in Millvale, say the old church, which was closed in 2004, costs too much to maintain. However, the city's Historic Review Commission wanted the building preserved because it is believed to be the first Croatian Catholic church in the United States.

Church officials say the building is unstable and unsafe.  In a written statement released following the city’s decision to pull its appeal, the Catholic Dioceses of Pittsburgh said, “St. Nicholas Parish, Millvale, has spent $360,000 maintaining the unused East Ohio Street building. Nearly 17 percent of the monthly offering of the parish faithful is spent on this unused and unnecessary building… The Diocese and parishioners of St. Nicholas Parish are grateful that the City has taken this action and the order of Judge Colville will stand.”

The Building was the subject of intense debate when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced it would widen Route 28 and planned to take the church property and raze the building.  PennDOT later rerouted the road to allow the church to stand.