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Developer, Amish to team for 'modern barn'

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A Collier-based developer said he will enlist the help of the Amish for a “barn raising” of a retail building in McCandless that will complement nearby barns in North Park.

“The whole thing for us is about doing the right thing in the right place,” said Craig Cozza, of Cozza Enterprises LLC.

Cozza's building, which will contain a café and retailers Pro Bikes and Elite Runners and Walkers, will be constructed on vacant land his company bought last year on Kummer Road, across from Allegheny County-owned North Park.

The two-level structure will be red and white with a significant amount of glass windows on the front, said Joe Mestnik, project coordinator at Fabo Enterprises Inc. in Cleveland.

“It's a modern re-interpretation of a barn. It will have barn framing inside. It will have the heart of a barn but a more modern skin,” he said.

The goal is to create a destination spot that will include an area around the building to test bike and running equipment, Cozza said.

His crew will work with Amish builders, he said, adding that his company has worked with the Amish before on other projects.

“They don't have phones, so you have to go meet with them the old-fashioned way, which is neat,” Cozza said.

The Amish workers based north of Pittsburgh will timber the wood and do the post-and-beam construction, Cozza said.

Construction would take six months and start later this spring, Cozza said. The barn-raising will take about a month, and then Cozza's crew will finish the rest of the project.

The building will be constructed beside Pine Creek, so it will be raised above the flood plain, said Bruce Betty, McCandless' land-use administrator.

The McCandless council on Monday voted 6-0 — Councilwoman Cynthia Potter was absent — to approve the site plan. Cozza will still need to apply for building permits.

Cozza, who owns Pro Bikes stores in Monroeville, Bethel Park and Squirrel Hill, expects the Kummer Road project to further his company's support of bike racing events and related charities, including the Pittsburgh Triathlon, for which Pro Bikes does bike safety checks annually.

Located on Pearce Mill Road, North Park is a 3,075-acre site in Hampton, McCandless and Pine.

There are five barns in the park. Two of them, Rose Barn on Pearce Mill Road and Parish Hill Barn on Walter Road, can be rented for community events.

“We've got several stables along Grubbs Road, and it just fits with the concept of most of North Park,” Betty said.

Riding for the Handicapped of Western Pennsylvania Inc. has a horse barn and stable behind the Cozza property,

The site of Cozza's project has been home to a variety of restaurants, including Tambellini's in the 1980s and Brendan's in the 1990s, said McCandless resident Gary Rigdon, chairman of Friends of North Park, which raises money for park projects and organizes trash cleanups.

The project could be a welcome addition, as long as it doesn't compete with businesses, such as North Park Sports Shop, which rents bikes less than a minute's walk away, Rigdon said.

“If it is going to be a barn-like structure built by Amish … I'd very much approve of that as opposed to something coming in with bright lights and flashy signs,” he said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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