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Cool Springs owner plans ambitious revival

Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Every time Brian Shanahan drove past the fire-scarred, financially troubled Cool Springs Golf Center, where he and his brothers spent their youths golfing, playing and taking dates, he was depressed to see its deterioration.

When he saw that the property was scheduled for a sheriff's sale in October, he wrote a check for $1.66 million, paid off about $160,000 in back taxes and started on an ambitious plan to revive the Bethel Park recreation complex by adding a high-tech driving range, athletic fields and an indoor sports center.

“This is the most fun I've ever had, at Cool Springs. I want to bring it back to the way it was when I was in high school,” said Shanahan, CEO of King of Prussia-based CardConnect, a payment processing company. He said his group, Cool Springs Associates, plans to expand the site, which fell on hard times.

Its previous owners defaulted on a $2.55 million bank loan, and fire damaged a storage garage in September.

“We are going to restore and upgrade Cool Springs to something better than it's ever been for the last 35 years,” Shanahan said.

He planned to present his ideas to the Bethel Park Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday night, along with his proposal to purchase 15 acres the municipality owns next door, which is separated from Millennium Park by a railroad track.

Between purchasing the land and building all the upgrades, he estimated the project would cost $10 million to $12 million. He has begun to clear the site of “junk,” old tree stumps that made it harder to mow and some fencing.

Steve Tanzilli, chairman of Point Park University's Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management program, said with the growth of the South Hills and a relative lack of large sports complexes, Cool Springs could fill a need.

“Just based on the young population in the South Hills, the more first-class facilities in the South Hills, the better,” he said.

Under Shanahan's plan, the mini-golf course will be refurbished and a small building there converted into a stand selling drinks and gelato ice cream, with restroom facilities separate from the rest of the property.

The driving range will be upgraded to 102 bays, each with a system combining radar-based ball tracking and a computer screen that displays each shot's distance and trajectory. Using the screens and target greens on the range below, golfers will be able to simulate entire games on famous courses, Shanahan said.

The lower level of the driving range area will be remodeled with a lounge and kitchen serving light fare.

A dek hockey rink will replace batting cages, and Cool Springs will build four “hybrid” baseball diamonds with natural grass outfields and artificial turf infields. A fifth diamond will be all turf, designed for special-needs players.

Shanahan said he is partnering with Canonsburg-based Bianco School of Baseball to run its programs at Cool Springs, and a cheerleading and gymnastics program could be tapped to use an indoor sports area that could be built starting as early as this spring if he gets necessary approvals from Bethel Park.

Bethel Park Planner Jerry Duke said the site is zoned for residential use, but has a conditional use approval for the driving range dating to the 1970s. To build the fields and indoor sports center, Cool Springs would need additional approvals or zoning amendments from Bethel Park.

Matthew Santoni is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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