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Nonprofits could lease prime space in Sewickley

Hearing set

A public hearing is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, to consider amending Sewickley's ordinances to permit some first-floor office use within the Village Overlay District. The hearing will be in council chambers at the Sewickley Borough Building, 601 Thorn St.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

Some nonprofits including Village Green Partners soon could be permitted to lease prime space in Sewickley's business district.

The borough's planning commission at an April 2 public hearing will consider a proposal to allow some nonprofit use of first-floor spaces across Sewickley's Village Overlay District, which encompasses much of the business district. Current ordinances forbid first-floor office space within the district.

If the planning commission recommends the change, council could vote on the proposal as early as April 21.

If approved, organizations with nonprofit status would be required to open at least 50 percent of the floor space they occupy to the public.

The move would allow Village Green Partners, the nonprofit marketing and event-planning group that hosts events such as Light Up Night, to relocate to a first-floor office.

Under the name Mulberry Street Properties, Jennifer Markus, Village Green president, purchased 611-613 Beaver St. last year with intentions to relocate the nonprofit's office from its current third-floor office in the 400 block of Beaver Street to first-floor space in the building she purchased.

Markus said the group would operate a “welcome center” for the business district and art gallery space.

“We do have a lot of pressure coming from many parts of the town for office (space),” planning commission member Thomas Rostek said. “This was a use that really is beneficial to the whole town.

“Everyone has the ability to have a tenant of this nature on the first floor of a building. So it's fair, and it maintains the integrity of our Village Overlay.”

Allowing the change “is something that is going to promote business throughout the whole town,” Rostek said.

Markus asked for a zoning change last fall, but Rostek said planning commission members “weren't interested” in that.

“We didn't want to ... trim at the edges of the Village Overlay,” Rostek said. Markus' property sits at the southernmost end of the Village Overlay.

She said the nonprofit's current lease ends later this month.

“Our lease was up, and our landlord has rented to somebody else,” Markus said. “We would love to be moved in by this summer.”

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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