Norwin Towne Square gets thumbs-up from businesses and patrons
By Michael DiVittorio
Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013, 3:46 a.m.
Patrons and business owners alike say they are pleased by the progress of construction at Norwin Towne Square in North Huntingdon Township.
“It's very good,” said Cesare Tiano, co-owner of Grande Pizza Family Restaurant, which has been located in the plaza for 34 years. “It's better than before.”
Tiano said the toughest part of reconstruction was moving his shop about 50 feet, but he said that has not affected business.
Frogurt is new to the shopping center. The frozen yogurt shop opened in the arcade on April 24.
“Compared to when we first opened, it's come a long way,” manager Andrew Hinch said. “They didn't have any of the front finished. There was scaffolding in front of it. We had to walk through to get in here, but it looks great the way it's coming along. We think it's a great location. As soon as they get this finished and the other shops open, it will bring in a lot of traffic.”
Hinch said many patrons shared stories of what the plaza was like years ago.
Lifelong township residents Jack and Shelli Stein were among those people. They visited Frogurt with friends on Wednesday evening.
“This needed to be done,” Jack Stein said. “People who had this let it go to hell, did nothing with it, drove people out of business.
“This is bringing new businesses up here. This is all positive. There's nothing negative about this. I remember when this was built. My mother worked at the A&P.”
“It's been years since there's been a grocery store on this end,” Shelli Stein said.
Other shops in the arcade include M&M Styles, Clear Hearing Solutions, Suntan Seekers, Joe's Tailor Shop and Route 30 Insurance.
Four stores — Pizza Hut, Hallmark, a beer distributor and a sports memorabilia shop — continue to operate in the square during construction.
An old PNC Bank was torn down to make way for Shop 'n Save customer parking. Shop 'n Save replaces the former Scozio's Family Supermarket. That section was completely demolished and restored, and may not be complete until the end of the year. Shop 'n Save will be directly adjacent to Natale's Sporting Goods.
The newly constructed Bob Massie Toyota dealership may be open within the next few months. A Wooden Nickel Restaurant also is planned.
North Huntingdon-based Colony Norwin LLC owns the 1950s-era plaza on the west end of the township.
Commissioners declared the property blighted and deteriorated in November.
They approved a tax abatement program through the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act that month.
Developers were pushing for the program to help make the project come to fruition. The LERTA agreement declares new construction or improvements at the site tax exempt for five years.
Commissioners approved amending the LERTA ordinance at Wednesday night's meeting following a public hearing. No one commented at the hearing.
Township manager John Shepherd said the amendment was a language change to match Norwin School District's LERTA agreement, which states the tax abatement would not be applied to the McDonald's and MedExpress in the plaza.
Shepherd said plaza reconstruction does not impact those two businesses, and the work is on schedule.
“Anyone that's lived in the township has seen the project for awhile and there have been a lot of vacancies,” said commission vice president Zachary Haigis. “I think it's going to try to redevelop the western end of the township starting with the Towne Square. It's coming along pretty well. It's looking very nice.”
More information about the plaza is available online at www.facebook.com/NorwinTowneSquare.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965
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