1. Building collapse on North Main: More than five months since a three-story apartment building partially collapsed, trapping a tenant for hours, the complications created by the cave-in are far from over.
The July 12 buckling of the 15 N. Main St. structure trapped Megan Angelone, 37, for more than nine hours before rescuers finally freed her. It also displaced her and other tenants and carried legal and financial repercussions that continue for the city and building owners.
The July building collapse was the top local story of 2017, based on voting by Observer-Reporter writers and editors.
The city obtained a court order allowing for demolition of the North Main building – a process that left that block of the busy street closed to traffic for months while a contractor worked to tear it down.
The city has gone to court in a bid to make insurers for the building’s owners – Washington landlord Mark Russo and his sister, Melissa, of Colorado – pay the more than $1.1 million to cover a bill from Allegheny Crane Rental Inc. for demolition work, legal fees and other costs arising from the demolition.
City officials cited the collapse as one reason for unexpected costs this year that prompted an increase in real-estate taxes to fuel next year’s budget.
At the time of the collapse, the Russos already were facing one citation the city code enforcement officer had filed after a tenant complained about a cracking wall he asserted was never adequately fixed.
Officials inspected several other rental properties owned by the Russos, filing more citations and evicting tenants from two – 350 Duncan Ave., which has since been sold, and 149 Hall Ave. – that they deemed uninhabitable, a step they appear not to have contemplated taking at the North Main Street building before it caved in. Most of those citations are still pending.