SHAMOKIN - In a major development in the three-year legal dispute for control of Center City Apartments, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had denied a request to hear the case.

Center City owner Red Gold Enterprises Inc. and company president Eugene Picarella had asked the court to hear appeals on the validity of two mortgages on the building, home to approximately 30 tenants at the corner of Shamokin and Independence streets. But in a Feb. 23 ruling, the court denied both petitions.

With that, Shamokin Housing Authority executive director Ronald Miller said the authority will move forward in its efforts to take over the property, possibly with foreclosure action.

"We are now going to take appropriate steps in court to secure the building," Miller said Tuesday.

The route the authority may take is a sheriff's sale, something the authority tried to do in October 2010. That effort was stayed by Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor, who has presided over the case since its beginning in 2009.

The judge last affirmed the stay in July while awaiting word on whether the state Supreme Court would hear the appeal.

Calls to Robert Cravitz, Selinsgrove, Red Gold's attorney, and Clayton Davidson, of Harrisburg, who has been handling the case for the authority, for comment were not returned Tuesday.

Attorney Roger Wiest, of Sunbury, who has no involvement in the case but was asked to weigh in on the process, said there is one more option for Red Gold.

"They could file a motion to the state Supreme Court to reconsider, but it is very rare that the court ever does that," he said.

The ruling could mark the end of more than three years of legal wrangling between the authority and Red Gold Enterprises Inc. (See accompanying timeline.)

Red Gold first took out mortgages with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) in 1988 to make improvements on the building.

PHFA filed a foreclosure action against Red Gold in 2000 after the company had failed to make payments on the mortgage for years. Red Gold company filed objections, stating the property was not adequately described in the complaint.

After sitting dormant for four years, Northumberland County Judge Robert Sacavage dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning PHFA could not pursue any further legal action.

Among the tenants at Center City are those who receive government housing assistance.