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Group plans to purchase Mesta Mansion

| Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A local company is looking to purchase the historic Mesta Mansion along Doyle Avenue in West Homestead with the hope of turning the property into a center for business, cultural and community-based activities.

Two partners from Riverway Lighthouse Estate, LLC presented their plans for the 10,000-square-foot estate, which dates to the late 1800s, to borough council at a special meeting on Monday.

A sheriff's sale is scheduled next week. Riverway representatives said they have contacted a host of potential investors with the hope of raising $56,000 to pay off debts on the property by the end of the week, which would prevent the sheriff's sale.

“It's a huge dream of ours,” said Yolanda Rodriguez, one of the Riverway founders.

Rodriguez and co-founder Kimberly Andrews said they would like to turn the property into a combination health spa, special event and environmental education center that would house a music and video production area and space for small businesses and nonprofits.

The group hopes to make environmentally friendly improvements to the building and use a good portion of the 1.5-acre lot for sustainable agriculture.

Andrews said the facility could create new economic enterprise in the area and employ as many 20.

“We want to inspire other businesses,” she said.

Council will have to consider zoning issues if the group purchases the mansion and works toward those goals. Right now the area is zoned for residential use. Assistant zoning officer Bill Roth said the borough would have to evaluate how the proposed uses would fit into that designation.

Borough officials expressed support for the plans, and will discuss the matter at a future meeting.

Rodriguez told council her company needs help finding investors.

In addition to the $56,000 needed immediately to stop the short sale of the property, she said total investments could run as high as $500,000 in purchase and renovation costs.

Rodriguez said the most recent owner put about $700,000 into the property. She said more information about investing can be found by searching “Mesta Mansion” on the website www.indiegogo.com.

In other business, council gave final approval to a $2,068,446 budget for 2014. The new spending plan is about 3 percent higher than in 2013.

Council adopted a tax rate of 7.38 mills, .33 mills higher than the 2013 tax rate because of the special tax to support the Carnegie Library of Homestead, which voters approved in a referendum in November.

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

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