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West Liberty Avenue parking lot swap to take effect Tuesday

| Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 12:09 a.m.

Parking got a little bit tighter in Dormont on Tuesday when the borough completed a land swap that trades one redevelopment-ready parking lot for a slightly smaller one across the street.

The 75-space Junction Lot at West Liberty and McFarland Road was permanently shuttered at midnight, and a new, 36-space lot that Cochran Automotive formerly operated as a used-car lot opened on the other side of West Liberty at Biltmore Avenue.

Dormont agreed in December to trade the borough-owned, wedge-shaped Junction Lot to Cochran for the lot the dealership group owned, which has been converted to a parking lot with a central electronic payment station. The deal closed late last week, Borough Manager Jeff Naftal said.

Cochran wants to build an Infiniti dealership on the Junction site and put a parking deck around the side and back of its Nissan dealership for inventory parking. Work would begin Tuesday on demolition and site preparation, developer Bill Krahe said. Construction is expected to take about 12 months.

Some businesses in the block were worried that the deal exacerbated the area's lack of parking, given that the borough sold leases for about 50 spaces in the Junction Lot and intends to honor those leases at the new lot. Permits cost $55 a month for business owners and employees, the borough website said.

“We're getting into our busy time of year, so there will be overflow parking issues, for sure,” said Mary Pernatozzi, president of the South Hills Beauty Academy. “I think people are going to breeze right by because they'll get frustrated by the lack of parking.”

She noted that the quarter-mile-long block has several vacancies and wonders whether they'll be filled if the parking situation doesn't improve.

Dormont Council will vote Monday on a proposal to rent 30 parking spaces at Mt. Lebanon United Methodist Church on Peermont Avenue on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Council will vote on extending some on-street meters from a two-hour maximum to 12 hours.

“If we change the street parking, we'll be fine during the day,” Naftal said. “The issue will be the busy nights on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Completing the land swap clears the way for the new car dealership and a transit-oriented development between West Liberty Avenue and the Dormont Junction T station.

Dormont and Port Authority of Allegheny County are seeking developers' proposals for the site.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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