Laundromat operator signs on for Tarentum ‘Depot’ project
A Buffalo Township businessman has signed a 20-year lease to operate a laundromat in a Tarentum building being redeveloped as a community resource center.
Joe DeCroo, who operates Plaza Laundry in Harrison and the Springdale Laundromat, plans to locate his third laundromat in a Fifth Avenue building called The Depot, according to Mike DeNezza, director of communications and administration for Central Presbyterian Church and its Faith Community Partners, a nonprofit which owns the building.
Currently, there aren’t any laundromats in Tarentum, according to David Rankin, executive director of Faith Community Partners. Councilwoman Lou Ann Homa said the nearest one is DeCroo’s Plaza Laundry.
“I sense a great need down in that area for a state-of-the-art laundromat,” DeCroo said. “It’s one of the most basic services you can provide. I think it will be a great asset to the community.”
DeCroo plans to put his laundromat in The Depot’s basement. The basement ceiling is not high enough for the laundromat equipment, so Rankin said the basement will have to be excavated to lower its floor.
To pay for that, Rankin said Faith Community Partners is seeking a $210,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The group hopes to learn by February whether it secured the grant. If it does, work could start in the spring.
DeCroo hopes to be able to open at the Tarentum location in January 2021. He said the laundromat would employ three people.
For customers, different payment options will be available, such as debit and credit cards and mobile payment, according to DeCroo. He said there also will be a loyalty program and other promotions.
“Once we do get it up and running, Tarentum is going to have a state-of-the-art laundromat they haven’t had down there ever,” he said. “It will be something they can take great pride in.”
The Depot, located in the 300 block of Fifth Avenue, previously housed Joan’s Kiln Korner & Gifts, a ceramics business. Demolition work completed in December included removing thousands of ceramic molds from the basement.
In addition to the laundromat, Faith Community Partners envisions The Depot being home to a Wi-Fi cafe, a business incubator and office and meeting space. Plans also call for an outdoor courtyard in what is now an empty lot beside the building.
The Depot is not expected to be up and running until the first quarter of 2021, according to Rankin, who also is an elder at Central Presbyterian. The church founded Faith Community Partners in 2015, the same year it bought the building.
“If things go really well, it might be conceivable things could happen a little faster,” he said.
Faith Community Partners had been delayed waiting for a roughly $67,600 grant from the DCED’s Keystone Communities Program, which supports community revitalization projects.
That grant is being used to replace the building’s roof and for a stormwater system, Rankin said.
The building’s exterior masonry has been restored. Inside, a contractor reinforced roof trusses after some rotten timbers were found near where the roof drains were installed, Rankin said.
“We’re very pleased we’ve come this far,” he said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .