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Shopping center plans go forward in North Huntingdon

| Monday, June 6, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
North Huntingdon Planning Commission will review plans for the proposed nine-store Huntingdon Marketplace and a new Atria’s restaurant at Excela Square along Route 30, photographed on Monday, June 6, 2016.

The North Huntingdon Planning Commission Monday recommended approval of revised plans for a shopping center near the Wal-Mart store on Mills Drive and for plans for an Atria's restaurant in a former state liquor store location at Excela Square in North Huntingdon.

The recommendations will be forwarded to the North Huntingdon Commissioners. The panel set several conditions for both projects, which must obtain all government permits.

The plans that Colony Realty Associates of North Huntingdon presented for its Huntingdon Marketplace on Mills Drive eliminated a proposed patio that would have been attached to a restaurant. The developer slightly reduced the original size — 81,200 square feet — of the proposed shopping center.

Colony Realty envisions the shopping center having five box stores and flexible space for several smaller storefronts ranging from 1,300 square feet to 4,000 square feet, said Donald Tarosky Jr., a partner in the firm.

Virginia Stump, a planning commission member, said she wanted the rear of the shopping center to have a better appearance so that neighborhood residents didn't have to look at trash bins.

Mark Zimmerman, an engineer for Morris Knowles & Associates, said landscaping at the rear will help to block the view of the shopping center from the neighborhood. In response to concerns about light pollution, Zimmerman said landscaping and shields on the lights will prevent the illumination from impacting neighbors.

The planning commission's recommendation is contingent upon Colony Realty providing modifications to its plan in time for township planning director Andrew Blenko to review them before its June 15 meeting.

The recommendation for an Atria's restaurant came with the condition that an outdoor patio at the side of the restaurant be moved toward the rear to avoid encroaching on an easement for Hills Drive.

Patrick McDonnell, chief executive of Restaurant Holdings Inc. of Pleasant Hills, the corporate owner of Atria's, said he hopes to have the restaurant open by October.

Daniel Brown, a partner in Restaurant Holdings, said the restaurant will occupy about 4,000 square feet of the former liquor store. It will seat 181 patrons and look similar to the Atria's on Route 22 in Murrysville.

Development costs would be less than if the firm had to construct a new building, McDonnell said.

A company marketing study found the area would support an Atria's restaurant, he said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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