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Open house for renovated West Newton building sees good response

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The spruced-up and ready-to-occupy former Riverside Lounge was opened to public view Monday and the response was good, the owner's representative said.

The former tavern at 101 S. Water St. drew some local interest and some new ideas from people who inspected the space that has been remodeled for new uses, said William Prince, coordinator of the Trail Town Program operated by The Progress Fund, the Greensburg-based agency that provides financing for community development initiatives.

“I think it's going to be a wonderful asset in town. I think they (The Progress Fund) have done a wonderful job,” said West Newton Mayor Mary Popovich, who was among the local officials who participated in the three-hour open house.

Prince declined to reveal the possible uses that were discussed Monday by prospective entrepreneurs.

Community leaders have discussed the possibility that the once-vacant building above the eastern bank of the Youghiogheny River could become home to a restaurant, with 2,500 square feet of space available on the first floor, plus a new porch with windows offering a view of the river.

“We will look at all the options,” Prince said.

Popovich said she believes that a business at the renovated lounge will bring more business to the east side of West Newton, where there are several vacant storefronts along East Main Street.

The Progress Fund wants to find the right tenant for the two-story building, which sits on a one-half-acre parcel that offers parking off South Water Street.

Prince has said that The Progress Fund will cast a wider net for potential occupants, looking into the Pittsburgh market as well as the local area for those interested in investing in West Newton.

Prince had previously said that businesses with local and statewide ties were interested in learning about the building because of the Great Allegheny Passage that runs through West Newton, just across the West Newton Bridge from the building.

“I think we are in a transitional phase. People like little towns,” Popovich said.

The Progress Fund hired a contractor to gut the building, removing all the vestiges of the tavern and leaving a “blank space” for the new occupant. The Progress Fund has not revealed the cost of the renovations, which included a new roof, new windows, new entrances and a new back porch. The building can be remodeled to suit a tenant's needs, Prince said.

For those interested in starting a business in West Newton, the building is available for rent at $1,200 a month plus utilities for the entire first floor or $650 a month plus utilities for one-half of the first floor. Entrepreneurs wanting to open a business in the building have an advantage because The Progress Fund will make financing available, Prince said.

The Progress Fund plans to rent it out, but eventually wants to sell it, Prince said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jnapsha@tribweb.com or 724-836-5252.

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