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Theater, garage plans advance in Sewickley

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Plans for a proposed public parking garage and nonprofit theater on Walnut Street continue moving forward.

Sewickley Council members last week approved a lot consolidation plan and a change to the borough's zoning map for parcels that could become the site of a nearly 300-vehicle garage and two-screen movie theater.

Both recommendations were approved 8-0. Council members Stan Ference was not present.

The approval means a proposed municipal-owned garage and nonprofit-run theater would need to follow design guidelines set forth with the borough's Village Overlay District.

Standards within that specification take into consideration architecture and a Village appeal, former planning commission member Joan Miles said. She was a member of the commission when the design standards were created.

Borough leaders could have placed the property in a commercial zone, which would have required a 10-foot setback for structures.

Miles said the move to allow the theater to sit along the sidewalk is important.

She called the theater a future anchor building for the borough, adding that it should “reflect the best design principles.”

Miles said continuing to uphold the Village Overlay Design standards is important for the growth of the borough.

“Sometimes people say, ‘Why do we need design standards?'” she said. “All of us would agree that our village is one of the major selling points of our borough.

“We've all experienced when you meet someone from another part of the city and they ask you where you live and you say Sewickley. And they say, ‘Oh, I love Sewickley. It's so unique. It has great character. I love coming to look around.' A big part of that is because of our charm and our character. It's important that we continue to uphold these standards.”

In September, Village Theater Co. leaders said they were closing in on a $1.5 million goal to begin development of the project.

Organizers have raised about $1.2 million in pledges — including a $350,000 state grant.

Council members earlier this year began discussing plans to consider a nearly 300-space parking garage on Walnut Street.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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