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Former official suggests senior housing for Trafford lot

| Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Penn-Trafford Star
'Lot C' in Trafford, formerly the site of a municipal building, now sits empty after the Westmoreland County redevelopment authority hired A.W. McNabb LLC this year to demolish the dilapidated building.

Developers might be interested in building on the site of the former Trafford fire station and borough building if council is willing to part with the property, a member of the Trafford Economic and Community Development Corp. said.

In particular, the 1.2-acre property on Duquesne Avenue — and two neighboring parcels — could be enticing to a developer as a spot for something such as an apartment complex for seniors who are considering downsizing by selling their homes, Les Race told council members last month.

In turn, aging local residents who are unable to keep up with the maintenance of their homes could sell to young families but still live in the borough, he said.

“There's been a lot of discussion about the need for a seniors-only facility,” said Race, a former councilman who worked on the borough's comprehensive plan a few years ago. “I know, myself, we're getting to the point we're thinking seriously of downsizing what we currently have.”

One company that could be interested — which Race declined to identify — has developed a sketch of how a possible complex for older residents would look on the site, he said.

Trafford acquired the triangular-shaped “Lot C” from the Westinghouse-connected East Pittsburgh Improvement Co. in 1911 for $1 so the borough could have land for a municipal building and space for the police and fire departments. The borough's volunteer firefighters were the last tenants before they moved into the new public safety complex on Brinton Avenue in 2012, 87 years after the first section of the old building was dedicated.

The Westmoreland County redevelopment authority used federal funding to cover most of the cost of a demolition of the building this year. Trafford officials haven't outlined any plans for the empty land.

“The question (that) always comes to my mind is, ‘Why does the borough own property when it could turn it back into the tax base?'” Race said.

Council President Rich Laird said that the board would take Race's comments into consideration. Municipalities must go through specific steps to advertise a property for sale rather than simply negotiate with one interested buyer.

If council were to decide to market the property, it could place newspaper advertisements to encourage developers to visit the site and view it, Race said.

That idea is similar to the way the Pittsburgh-based Real Estate Trust Co. invited investors in 1902 to what was then known as “Trafford City” to buy newly designed lots in town.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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