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Dormont corridor's revival in motion

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Dormont could get a brand-new parking lot along West Liberty Avenue by the end of May, setting off a series of land swaps and redevelopments that could significantly remake the southern end of the borough's business district.

Under a deal with the #1 Cochran family of car dealerships, Cochran Automotive is converting its former used-car lot at West Liberty and Biltmore avenues into a public parking lot with space for 36 vehicles.

Once that work is completed — at the end of May or early June, said Borough Manager Jeffrey Naftal — Cochran will swap the used-car lot and a piece of land Cochran owns on the other side of West Liberty and Biltmore for the borough's existing metered parking lot at the corner of West Liberty and McFarland Road. Cochran wants to redevelop that lot with an Infiniti showroom and a parking deck that will wrap around its existing Nissan showroom.

Working with the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the borough hopes in June to formally seek developers' proposals for a mix of a parking garage, retail space and apartments that could be built on Port Authority's Dormont Junction park-and-ride and the parcels the borough will own along West Liberty between Biltmore Avenue and Park Boulevard.

Studies of the lots envisioned as many as eight stories of transit-oriented development with new storefronts along West Liberty and Park Boulevard, though Naftal cautioned that actual plans could be different.

“We'll leave it up to the developers as to what they want to propose,” he said. “It may or may not match up with what was dreamt of in the studies.”

Bill Krahe, developer for Cochran, said the dealership group hopes to begin construction on the parking deck and the Infiniti showroom as soon as the properties have officially changed hands, with a goal of completing them in the spring of 2014.

The borough is trying to make redeveloping near the T station more enticing by creating a tax increment financing district, or TIF, that would set aside some of the property tax revenue that the new developments would generate and use that money to pay off loans for work such as building the parking garage.

The borough, Keystone Oaks School District and Allegheny County have signed off on forming a committee to set up the TIF, determine the district's borders and decide where the tax revenue will go. After that, there would be additional public meetings and approvals from all three taxing bodies on whether to form the district.

Naftal also said he hopes to return to council in June with a proposal to help offset the net loss of parking spaces for local businesses while everything is under construction.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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