Speedway opening McKeesport store, plans to build 3 more

| Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, 5:16 a.m.

As Speedway LLC opens its first McKeesport area convenience store, local officials say the Marathon Oil subsidiary is considering three other locations.

Proposed stores in Dravosburg, North Versailles Township and White Oak are within 5 miles of the 3,900-square-foot store opening on Friday at 3 p.m. along E. Fifth Avenue and Elm Street.

“It will feature consumer fueling lanes, a complete convenience store and Speedway's latest evolution in food, a Speedy Café,” company spokesman Eugene L. Freeman said. “Speedy Café is a fast casual, full-serve restaurant where customers place their orders at a self-serve kiosk.”

The menu is similar to the ones offered by Sheetz and most GetGo outlets, with paninis, subs, specialty dogs, pizzas, breakfast sandwiches and sides and beverages such as lattes, mochas, smoothies frappes.

On Thursday, White Oak Planning Commission recommended that council approve a Speedway on the former Bob Massie car dealership sites at 1188 and 1200 Long Run Road.

The commission recommended consolidation of the two lots and conditional approval of the plan presented by Speedway consultant Glenn A. Wolfe, provided he comply with recommendations from borough engineer Donald Hultberg.

Hultberg and Wolfe are employed by EADS Group.

Hultberg presented two pages of comments, including a requirement that Speedway seek a special exception from the zoning hearing board to operate a service station in a C2-commercial zone long used for car sales.

Other conditions cover the floodplain, lighting, the need for a variance for a freestanding sign higher than 22 feet, and other permits.

The McKeesport Speedway planned a ribbon cutting on Thursday but it was delayed.

“The weather prevented some of our lot paving, causing the delay,” Freeman said.

“We've been greatly anticipating the opening of the Speedway,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “From the very beginning of discussions they have said they want to be a part of the community and to be a partner with the community.”

Cherepko said the store is scheduled to operate around the clock and is one more boost to the E. Fifth Avenue corridor.

Speedway is taking the place along E. Fifth of Di's Cornerstone Diner, which has moved to a former Burger King near Olympia Shopping Center.

“I'm pleased to see that Di's has relocated,” Cherepko said. “She is happy. That's extremely important to me, that she is doing well.”

In North Versailles, Speedway will be shoe-horned into a space along Route 30 between Luehm Avenue and Olympus Fitness, across from a plaza anchored by Giant Eagle.

It is up the hill from the intersection with Route 48 where a Marathon Oil convenience store is run by a franchisee, but without the fast-food features of Speedway.

“They're waiting for their permits,” township code enforcement officer Allen R. Wagner said. “They've actually purchased the property. They have their demolition permits. They're waiting for other state permits.”

Two houses would be demolished, as well as some smaller structures that once were part of a motel. Part of the property on which Olympus Fitness sits would be included.

But while “everything down to the gym” would be included in the Speedway lot, Wagner said, “the gym is remaining.”

In September, Dravosburg council authorized consultant Glenn Engineering Associates to talk with Speedway about its plan for the Striffler Family Funeral Homes property along Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard and Bettis Road, both state highways.

“Speedway ... presented a proposal that was not acceptable,” Glenn's David Gilliland said. “Since then they have done about 16 redesigns.”

Gilliland said Speedway is trying to work with PennDOT on driveway issues. Speedway wants to access borough-owned Luscombe Lane.

There's another problem.

“There are no sewers in that area,” Gilliland said. “They'd have to put in a pump station.”

Speedway, based in Enon, Ohio, has approximately 1,470 stores in nine Midwest states.

“Speedway continues to look at sites where we have existing logistics infrastructure that enables us to provide a good value to our customers,” Freeman said.

Freeman said Speedway still is looking to staff its newest store. Applicants can go online to www.speedway.com.

In other business Thursday, White Oak planners turned back a proposal by “Made You Look Mobile Media” owner John Cardo of North Versailles for a pair of 7-by-12-foot rotary billboards that could carry three ads apiece along Route 48 and Sunset Road.

Cardo said they would be similar to, but smaller than, billboards that tower over the intersection of routes 30 and 48 in North Versailles.

Hultberg and Solicitor Krista Mackulin said Cardo did not provide enough information. Hultberg offered to help Cardo prepare applications for the commission to consider on Jan. 2 and for the zoning hearing board on Jan. 9.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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