ShareThis Page

Elizabeth Township Village on the block

| Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, 3:57 a.m.
Jason Dull of Fox's Pizza Den and Elizabeth Township Authority chairman Glenn Schreiber discuss the authority's plans to sell Swiss Alpine Village. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Elizabeth Township Authority is looking to sell Swiss Alpine Village. The authority has owned the commercial plaza along Scenery Drive for almost a decade and has had trouble keeping all the units occupied. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Elizabeth Township Authority is looking to sell the Swiss Apline Village commercial plaza it owns along Scenery Drive. The village has had trouble keeping all its units occupied. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News

No doubt, most people have heard the expression of incredulity, “If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.”

In Elizabeth Township, that phrase could be tweaked a little to, “We've got a Swiss Alpine Village to sell you,” only municipal officials there aren't kidding.

The struggling commercial center owned and operated by the Elizabeth Township Authority for nearly a decade is about to go on the market. Municipal officials say they are looking for a firm or individual with expertise in real estate to make them a good offer.

“We've been looking to sell it for some time,” said township board of commissioners Vice President Larry Vota regarding a decision made earlier this year by the board to put the property on the market.

Vota said maintaining and attracting businesses to the 15-acre site off Scenery Drive isn't something the township is designed to do. “We no longer have a need for it. We're not in the real estate business in the township.”

Built in the early 1990s, the village is comprised of six buildings fashioned after Swiss chalets. The township authority purchased the village in 2003 for $825,000 in an effort to stop its previous owner from locating an educational and residential center for non-violent juvenile offenders there. The authority succeeded in preventing the controversial center from moving in but has had trouble keeping all the buildings rented.

Tenants include a pizzeria, Chinese restaurant, gun shop, dry cleaner, dog grooming salon, martial arts studio and doctor's office. But units that once housed a daycare center, district court office and insurance agency remain empty.

“The structures are in good shape,” said authority chairman Glenn Schreiber, who was charged earlier this year with evaluating the village's problems and potentials. Schreiber believes someone with expertise in commercial property could fill the empty units and perhaps even add on to the village. Much of the lot is wooded and remains undeveloped. Though some of the terrain is steep, Schreiber said parts of it could be developed for residential apartments.

Elizabeth Township Area EMS is headquartered in the village but owns its offices and garage.

Restaurant operators within the complex say their businesses would get a boost if more surrounding units were occupied.

“There's a lack of reinvestment,” said Jason Dull, who has run Fox's Pizza Den in the village for eight years.

Dull would like to see more office space around him rented and believes the location would be well suited for a beer distributor, but adds that renters will be difficult to attract because much of the facility has a slightly faded appearance.

“It needs to look more current,” said Dull, who is glad the facility is on the market. “It needs somebody to come in here and rejuvenate it.”

Mike Lin, who operates China Fortune Restaurant, would welcome a landlord who is more invested in the property. Lin said he's wanted the authority to install a better sign along the road for the five years. “A lot of people pass by and don't even know we're here.”

The infrastructure needs underscore the township's reasons for wanting to sell, Schreiber said. The marketing process begins on Thursday, he said, when the authority will make information packages available to prospective buyers for the first public offering. Parties interested in the property will have until Dec. 3 to notify the township and tours of the facility are scheduled for Dec. 11.

The deadline for submitting a sealed bid on the village is Jan. 7.

Schreiber said the township is looking to sell the whole parcel at once.

He said the authority considered subdividing and determined doing so could prolong the marketing process, keeping the township in the position of being landlord to some of the properties longer than desired.

The first floor totals 14,000 square feet and the second floor totals 3,000 square feet. Schreiber said the property recently was appraised but those figures are not yet available.

The county's assessed value for the property is $850,700.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.