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Work begins on Blue Spruce Shoppes site in Murrysville

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Excavation on the Blue Spruce Shoppes site along Route 22 began last week, and developers expect construction to start within four weeks.

Developer Herky Pollock said he hopes the mixed-use development — which is expected to cost as much as $18 million — will be ready to open by Nov. 1.

“Blue Spruce Shoppes promises to add to the overall quality of life of residents living in and around Murrysville and Westmoreland County,” Pollock said. “It will provide consumers an alternative to larger regional markets with better and more convenient shopping and dining alternatives.”

While work will continue on the site, workers aren't permitted to move dirt near the right-of-way along Route 22 until developers obtain a highway-occupancy permit from the state. Murrysville officials last week approved allowing developers to work without the permit for up to 90 days.

Bill Sittig, attorney for the developers, said the state Department of Transportation delayed issuing the permit until Pollock had the deed to the property in hand. Then, state officials wanted to review the sharpness of the curve leading into the parking lot.

“It was partly a chicken-and-the-egg thing,” Sittig said. “We were on the cusp of having it in hand.”

Sittig said he has waited months for paperwork to make its way through PennDOT in previous cases and asked Murrysville officials to allow workers to begin moving dirt on the site. Under the terms of the development's approval, the highway-occupancy permit must be issued before any work can begin. Construction equipment has sat at the site for several weeks while developers addressed issues surrounding the permit.

Councilman Dave Perry abstained from the decision to allow construction to begin without the highway occupancy permit. He cited a professional relationship with the developers.

Developers also can apply for building permits during that 90-day time period.

While Murrysville officials said they don't expect Pollock will be able to obtain those permits within that time frame, Pollock said he is confident that construction on the site will begin next month.

Part of that is because of an alternate construction method being used on the property.

A company in the North Hills of Pittsburgh will construct many of the panels needed for the four-building development, Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison said. That should knock three to four months off of the construction phase.

“They'll construct it like a Lego set,” Morrison said.

The $18-million development will be built at the site of the former Blue Spruce Motel and swimming pool. It is slated to feature retail shops, an early-childhood-education center, a bank, a medical office and specialty restaurants. Pollock said the property will be unique to Murrysville and will enhance and complement the municipality.

“If you look at the top residential trade areas in the region, they all begin with quality retail and mixed-use development,” Pollock said. “It is all vibrancy and vitality, and residents and consumers flock to areas that fulfill not only their daily needs but also their wants and desires.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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