Charleroi School Board votes to sell old stadium, Atlas building

Beth Hope-Cushey
Observer Reporter

Charleroi Area School Board on Tuesday voted to sell the former Atlas property at McKean Avenue and Second Street and the old high school football stadium at 200 Second St. to a private developer who wants to put a grocery store and restaurant at the sites.

The action came over the objections of John LaCarte, president of the Middle Monongahela Industrial Development Association board, who asked the school board at its meeting Tuesday to table the motion.

He said MIDA was working to get an environmental study of the adjacent properties completed and hoped to develop them to serve the community.

“I would like the board to table the motion and put the property out for private and commercial bid,” LaCarte said. He added he was blind-sided by the decision.

“There are a lot of issues with the properties, and we were working to solve those issues and find the best use for the properties for the community,” he said.

The board approved executing a sales agreement for the properties with JaBo Enterprises LLC for $100,000, subject to the approval of Washington County Court.

JaBo has been represented by a Howard Hanna Simon broker in Rostraver Township, Charleroi Superintendent Ed Zelich said. JaBo is listed at the Pennsylvania State Department as having an address of 103 Chateau Drive, Aliquippa. Its filing with the state does not identify its officers, online records show.

The former blighted Atlas building fronts one of Charleroi’s main downtown streets, and the old stadium sits behind it, bordering the Monongahela River.

The Atlas building was once home to a discount wholesaler. The district received the property as a 2011 donation from Ronald C. Sotta, and the district intended from the beginning to package the building with the stadium for riverfront redevelopment.

School board solicitor Seth Tongchinsub said the owner of Monongahela Iron & Metal, whose name he did not know, also owns JaBo. The district is going to add a covenant in the deed that would restrict JaBo from using the land for a salvage yard.

Tongchinsub said the Pennsylvania School Code permits districts to dispose of unused lands and buildings through private sales.

Charleroi Councilman Larry Celaschi said he wished there had been more communication between the community and the school board on the proposed sale of the properties.

“We had hoped it would have been developed to bring jobs to the community,” he said. He added the stadium is zoned industrial, and the proposed use does not fall under the borough’s zoning for the property.

Tongchinsub said the properties have been on the market for more than a year, and the sale is good for the district and community.

“Number one, it puts the property back on the tax rolls, and number two, we received money from the sale,” he said.