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North Fayette turns to mixed-use developments to keep senior citizens, attract young professionals

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

North Fayette wants to keep its senior citizens and attract young professionals, and adding apartments to business districts to create mixed-use developments could help it, township officials said.

“Most of our residential growth as of late has been single-family homes in residential subdivisions. Not everyone wants to live in that particular housing type,” said Laura Ludwig, North Fayette's community development director.

On Tuesday, township commissioners will conduct a public hearing and then vote on amending its zoning ordinance to allow garden and high-rise apartments as a conditional use in business districts.

The amendments are being considered for the B-1 zoning district along Steubenville Pike and bordering some of Route 30 and West Allegheny Road; and the B-2 zoning district adjacent to the Hanky Farms, Oakdale and Imperial exits off of Route 22.

The latter district includes The Pointe at North Fayette off Summit Park Drive, township Manager Robert Grimm said.

Mixed-use developments combine residential, retail and/or office space in the same structure or on the same tract of land.

The amendment would allow North Fayette to compete with neighboring Robinson's newer retail centers, which include the Mall at Robinson and Robinson Town Centre.

Developers have shown interest in building market-rate, multifamily housing on a vacant parcel on Summit Park Drive near The Pointe, and senior housing off of Steubenville Pike near the Imperial Shop 'n Save grocery store, Ludwig said.

As many as 30 entities own any of several retail strips and freestanding buildings that compose The Pointe, which opened in the 1990s and includes a Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot, Grimm said.

The Pointe has recovered substantially from some of the retail losses to Robinson and is approaching a 90 percent occupancy rate, he said.

A mixed-use area would add “built-in clientele” and complement existing businesses, he said.

Most mixed-use developments in the Pittsburgh region are in urban centers, such as Downtown, the South Side and the Strip District, said John Watt, analyst for Barone, Murtha, Shonberg & Associates Inc., a real estate appraisal and consulting firm in Whitehall.

Suburban areas are trying to get a piece of the action, but they are challenged by not having strong public transit, which is crucial to the success of mixed-use developments, said Watt, who is also a member of the Residential Neighborhood Development Council at the Urban Land Institute Pittsburgh District Council.

North Fayette won't model mixed-use developments after existing developments but would look at making The Pointe more walkable, Grimm said. Officials also are talking with transit providers about increasing the number of routes to the area.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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