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Businessman hopes to bring grocery to Carnegie

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 9:48 p.m.

Craig Cozza hopes that by purchasing the long-vacant former Family Dollar lot, he can bring a grocery store to the Carnegie community.

“It's something Carnegie is really lacking,” said Cozza, owner of Cozza Enterprises, which is close to reaching a sales agreement with the borough. “We want to be a part of bringing that here.”

The $350,000 purchase will not be finalized until borough council's March meeting.

The lot is on Jane Street and has been up for sale since summer 2012. State law dictates that borough-owned property must be put up for public bid.

Borough solicitor Joe Lucas said there were no offers to buy the property the first time it was put up for bids. The second time, there were no qualifying bids.

After two rounds of bidding, the borough was allowed, under state law, to pursue private negotiations. After reaching a private agreement, the borough must provide a public announcement of the sale and adhere to a 30-day waiting period before finalizing the sale.

Lucas said Cozza approached the borough following the second failed bid attempt.

Cozza Enterprises bought the former post office in 2009, which now is the Medicine Shoppe and Carnegie Coffee Company. Cozza said he wants to bring more to the community.

“It's a great destination,” he said. “It has a great downtown that's been beat up over the years, but it's coming back. Good things are happening there, and we want to be one of the catalysts.”

He said his first-choice grocer is the East End Co-op, a member-owned organic grocery store in Pittsburgh's East End.

While nothing is set in stone, “we would love to have them. I think it would be fantastic here,” Cozza said. “We're in pursuit of that kind of use in that kind of space. It's exactly the type of thing we're looking for.”

Justin Pizzella, general manager of the co-op, said the Carnegie site is a good one, but they still are evaluating options.

“We still have to go through a number of steps,” Pizzella said on Monday. “Carnegie is one of several sites we're looking at.”

Carnegie Borough Manager Stephen Beuter said a grocery store would do the community good.

“It would be one more attraction to bring more individuals to town,” he said. “And, of course, it will bring employment opportunities into the community.”

He said a grocer will add to the borough's “continuously growing business district.” It is a growth Cozza said he hopes to be a part of.

“The things they're doing there – a lot of nice pieces are being added,” Cozza said. “It's really exciting to see Carnegie realizing its whole potential. We're trying to be a part of that.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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