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Self-serve auto salvage yard opens at former Penn Hills mall site

Dillon Carr
| Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
U-Pull-&-Pay is located at 250 Eastgate Drive in Penn Hills.
Dillon Carr | Tribune-Review
U-Pull-&-Pay is located at 250 Eastgate Drive in Penn Hills.

After about a year and a half of construction and planning, the U-Pull-&-Pay auto salvage lot is open for business.

Store manager Scott Lathrop said a grand opening ceremony will be held Friday, adding he's excited to be part of the neighborhood.

“We've received an overwhelmingly good response,” Lathrop said. “It's good to have the local talent working.”

He said the company hired about 30 employees, and the majority are from Penn Hills and Wilkinsburg.

The Cincinnati-based company opened its newest store at 250 Eastgate Drive, the 22-acre site of the former East Hills Shopping Center.

The business received a green light for construction from the Penn Hills planning commission in July 2016 — but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Wilkinsburg officials and environmental advocates opposed the company's plans. Although in Penn Hills, the site borders Wilkinsburg. Concerns ranged from potential environmental hazards to fear of the business becoming an eyesore and preventing future development.

Some Penn Hills residents were opposed to the business as well, calling it a junkyard.

Planning Director Chris Blackwell urged those who view the establishment as a junkyard to visit the site.

“It's a good business. They made a $7 million investment in the community and did everything we've requested of them,” Blackwell said. “So I'm very pleased with the outcome, and I think it will bring other businesses to the community.”

U-Pull-&-Pay calls itself a self-serve used auto parts store. It has 10 locations in seven states, according to a company press release. The Penn Hills site has the capacity to stock around 1,600 vehicles, with sections organized by manufacturer.

U-Pull-&-Pay allows customers to enter the property for a $2 fee. Once they locate what they want, they use their own tools to remove those parts and then purchase them.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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