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Cheswick Shopping Center investors want grocery store tenant

| Monday, May 12, 2014, 12:51 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Harrison developer Brian Clark the Cheswick Shopping Center (foreground) in Cheswick, as photographed on Thursday, May 8, 2014.

A grocery store is high on the list of tenants desired by a group of investors who bought the Cheswick Shopping Center.

They have no deal for a grocer or any other new business to move in, though, said Brian Clark, a real estate developer from Harrison and project manager with Brentwood BlackDog LLC.

Brentwood BlackDog bought the Pittsburgh Street shopping center for $1.3 million with plans to redevelop it. Investors established the corporation for a project in Brentwood that did not happen, so the name is being reused, Clark said.

“We think Cheswick is a terrific town. We think this is an undervalued asset,” Clark said. “It's in close proximity to all the traffic from the turnpike and surrounded by a lot of great communities. We see a lot of opportunity there.”

The purchase includes four buildings on 2 12 acres. Tenants include a flea market, auction gallery, coin-operated laundry and a Chinese restaurant.

The former Mars Diner at the back of the property is part of the purchase, too, Clark said.

A building housing a state Wine & Spirits store and an adjacent Pizza Hut were not included. The Pizza Hut property remains owned by the family who formerly owned the shopping center, Clark said.

“This center is mostly vacant. Our goal is to completely redevelop it,” Clark said. “There's going to be some demolition. We'll take down parts of some buildings and redo it as a brand new shopping center.”

A grocery store, first an A&P and later a Foodland, was the anchor of the shopping center. As its loss hastened the center's decline, the return of one could signal its rebirth.

But right now, a grocery isn't a sure thing.

“It is something we'd love to get into the center,” Clark said. “The community would love to have one. We'd love to work with a grocery store.”

Clark plans on attending Cheswick Council's May 20 meeting to discuss the investors' plans.

An improvement of the shopping center would be a “blessing,” said borough Secretary Andy Bock.

The center has a long history. Glen's Custard opened there in 1948, moving to Springdale 11 years later. The center has been in decline for quite a few years, Bock said.

“We're hoping he has some good things planned for us,” Bock said.

A former state legislator, Clark has been involved in real estate for 20 years. Among his previous projects is a small development in Tarentum with a Dunkin' Donuts and MedExpress.

“For every three (projects) you try to do, you only get one done,” he said. “It's a grueling business. The last five to six years have not been friendly to anyone in the real estate business.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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