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Lower Burrell Save-A-Lot to close on Saturday

| Friday, May 16, 2014, 12:46 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
The Save-A-Lot supermarket in Lower Burrell, near the Parnassus section of New Kensington, will be closing on Saturday, May 17, 2014.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
The Save-A-Lot supermarket in Lower Burrell, near the Parnassus section of New Kensington, will be closing on Saturday, May 17, 2014.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
The Save-A-Lot supermarket in Lower Burrell, near the Parnassus section of New Kensington, will be closing on Saturday, May 17, 2014, according to a sign on the front window.

The Save-A-Lot grocery store in Lower Burrell will close on Saturday with no one set to take over the supermarket at the intersection of Logans Ferry and Greensburg roads.

Developer Joseph Ferraccio of Allegheny Township confirmed on Wednesday that he sold the Save-A-Lot and surrounding property last June to First Commonwealth Bank. According to Westmoreland County deed records, the property was turned over in lieu of going through the foreclosure process after the partnerships that owned the land defaulted on loans.

“We're downsizing a bit, I guess,” Ferraccio said of his development corporations. “It was a business decision. It was time to move on.”

The property was valued last year in deed documents at $1.3 million. For more than 20 years, Ferraccio has strived to transform the 20-acre parcel into a thriving commercial center.

That began in the early 1990s when Ferraccio opened a Shop 'n Save on the property, which is near a key intersection commonly called the Parnassus Triangle that connects Kinloch, Plum's Logans Ferry Heights and New Kensington's Parnassus neighborhoods.

In 2000, he changed the supermarket into one of the region's first Save-A-Lot stores.

The future looked bright in the mid-2000s when B&J Supermarkets Inc., one of Ferraccio's corporations, sold a parcel to a developer that built a Walgreen's pharmacy beside an existing McDonald's restaurant.

In 2007, the Parnassus Triangle intersection was reconfigured, streamlining the flow of traffic. The same year, Ferraccio announced plans to build Sonic drive-in restaurants in the Alle-Kiski Valley, including possibly near the Save-A-Lot.

But Sonic never materialized there, and development at the site stalled about the time of the 2008 recession.

“The Save-A-Lot's closing is going leave a huge void for a lot of residents here,” Lower Burrell Councilman Joe Grillo said. “You hate to see it happen. Hopefully, we can get another grocery store in there.”

Shortly after obtaining the property, First Commonwealth listed it through #1 Choice Real Estate for $5.6 million, including a $540,000, 1-acre parcel that could be bought separately or omitted from the total sale.

First Commonwealth regional spokesman Rich Stimel could not be reached to discuss the bank's plans for the property.

Rand Hudson, the Realtor with the listing, said the property has generated interest from several developers, none of whom has committed to buying it.

The most likely outcome, he said, would be a big-box retailer filling the 25,000-square-foot supermarket and renting out its surrounding property to smaller retailers.

“It's a great redevelopment opportunity,” Hudson said. “With its proximity to the major roads there, it could be a very successful location.”

The earliest a buyer could open a development on the property, according to Hudson, is 18 months after Save-A-Lot's closing on Saturday.

Ferraccio is hoping his Lower Burrell customers will begin shopping at the Save-A-Lot in Allegheny Plaza, Allegheny Township.

Other local Ferraccio grocery stores have included the former Shop 'n Save in Lower Burrell's Hillcrest Shopping Center and a former Save-A-Lot in Harrison's Heights Plaza.

“I used to have five Shop 'n Saves,” Ferraccio said. “Then we went to seven Save-A-Lots. Now we're down to two.”

Four Boys Inc., another Ferraccio partnership, was responsible for creating Allegheny Towne Center in Allegheny Township. That shopping center includes a Giant Eagle supermarket, Wendy's restaurant and a district court office.

An undeveloped portion of Allegheny Towne Center valued at $350,000 also was turned over to First Commonwealth in 2013, but Ferraccio said he still owns part of the development.

“We're still doing the Sonics,” he said, including the Sonic at the Pittsburgh Mills mall in Frazer. “And we've got some other real estate projects.”

Lower Burrell Council, according to Grillo, has no plan to assist with the redevelopment of the Save-A-Lot property.

“That might be something we would look into, though,” he said. “We're always trying to sell our city, and that spot could be big for Lower Burrell.”

Liz Hayes and Braden Ashe are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Hayes can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com. Ashe can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

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