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Just-acquired Harrison tract eyed as commercial site

| Monday, April 21, 2014, 1:06 a.m.

A Lower Burrell developer has bought one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land in Harrison.

Rinaldo “Ron” Zampogna Jr. confirmed that his family-owned construction and development company, R&Z Harrison Properties LP, bought about 161 acres in the Parks Plan area, also known locally as “Job's Hole.”

R&Z Properties, which has its office along Highpoint Road in Buffalo Township, paid $545,000 for the property. It was purchased from First Commonwealth Bank, which had acquired it in June 2013 from Wood Development LP.

The tract is off Bull Creek Road on the Tarentum side of the Route 28 expressway. It extends northeast from Pleasant Avenue to Pleasantville Road between the expressway and Little Bull Creek.

“Right now we are just trying to figure out what we bought,” Zampogna said. “That Job's Hole area is very complex.”

In particular, he said the topography is varied with a relatively flat expanse of land along the expressway side but then the property slopes down toward the creek. The property is heavily wooded, and there is a pond nearby.

“There's some good things about the property, but there's some challenges with it as well,” Zampogna said. “I'm sure if we move forward, there would be a lot of earth moving. If anybody can do it, I think we can.”

Zampogna represents the third generation of contractors in his family, which for decades was well known for building single-family houses in the Alle-Kiski Valley and beyond. Over the past 10 to 15 years, the business has expanded to commercial development, which is a strong possibility for the recently acquired property.

Zampogna said that for now, the plans are not definite but added, “If we do something, it would probably be commercial.”

“I'd almost bank on it,” said Garry Lilly, a Harrison commissioner. “They tried to put a shopping complex in up at the Heights Plaza, where Bouchat Buick used to be, but they didn't have enough land for parking.”

Lilly said he knew of the plan about two years ago and said it was for about three or four stores and a restaurant.

“We did look into developing the old Bouchat property near the Heights Plaza, but it just never panned out,” Zampogna said.

He said R&Z's property/development portfolio includes:

• Yellow Jacket Square, 612 South Pike Road, Buffalo Township.

• The Shoppes at Bear Creek, 616 South Pike Road, Buffalo Township.

• A commercial building in Tarentum at 201 Corbet St.

• China Lobster Restaurant, 3215 Leechburg Road, Lower Burrell.

• A commercial building at 4782 Leechburg Road, Allegheny Township.

• The Sheetz convenience store, Bridge and Main streets, in the Parnassus section of New Kensington.

Lilly was happy to hear about the land acquisition, saying that developing the property would be good for the township.

Zampogna said it would be a few months before any decision is made on the type of development.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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