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'Riverfront 47' would transform O'Hara scrap yard

Tawnya Panizzi
| Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 2:02 p.m.
The scrap processing yard Azcon runs under the Highland Park bridge through Aspinwall and Sharpsburg and was founded in 1863.
The scrap processing yard Azcon runs under the Highland Park bridge through Aspinwall and Sharpsburg and was founded in 1863.

O'Hara council is throwing its support behind a development that would change the face of the Lower Valley.

Aspinwall resident Susan Crookston's “Riverfront 47” would see about a mile and a half of Allegheny River shoreline transformed from a scrap yard to homes, hotels and nightlife.

“My goal is to create something world-class,” said Crookston, the leading force behind the adjoining Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

In all, the targeted property extends through Aspinwall, O'Hara and Sharpsburg. Owned by New York-based Blue Tee Corp., the land currently houses the scrap-processing yard Azcon.

Crookston has an option on the site but declined to reveal the cost.

She is seeking a premier developer, Crookston said, to build something that benefits the entire region. That's why she's looking for support from O'Hara, Aspinwall and Sharpsburg officials before the project launches.

“I want to give developers an assurance that the communities are working together and that this is something everyone wants,” she said.

O'Hara council members were expected to sign a formal agreement this week showing their intention to support the project.

“I don't think any of us wants what's there,” township manager Julie Jakubec said.

O'Hara Councilwoman Allison Garcia said she would abstain because her family owns property near the riverfront and stands to benefit from the overhaul.

Crookston said she wants to create a committee that represents the three communities. It would review plans and pinpoint potential issues. She plans to apply for a $5 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to be used for infrastructure.

Crookston also has partnered with Allegheny River Towns Enterprise Zone, or ARTEZ, to see that the project runs smoothly and brings to fruition the best possible use of the coveted piece of land.

Iris Whitworth, executive director of ARTEZ, said a high priority for the property is the expansion of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, someday linking bike paths here with Millvale, Pittsburgh and beyond.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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