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Developer's proposal called healthy growth

| Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Action by Crafton Council tonight could open the door for expansion of Crafton Ingram Shopping Center.

Cincinnati-based developer Anchor Associates wants a block of apartments along Steuben Street rezoned from residential to commercial to allow a "special shopping-center district" and possibly house a Walgreens -- the nation's largest drug-store chain.

The zoning change for the 2-acre site -- along Steuben Street and Linden Avenue -- already has been unanimously approved by the joint planning commission for Crafton, Rosslyn Farms and Thornburg. Crafton Council could vote on the rezoning at its 7 p.m. meeting.

Councilman Dan Cindric said if Crafton approves the rezoning, Rosslyn Farms and Thornburg officials probably would follow suit.

"This rezoning is totally inside the Crafton community and really is just an extension of the shopping center," Cindric said.

Mike Ricke, development manager for Anchor Associates, couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Of the nine apartment buildings along Steuben Street, the first group of three on the left side coming from the Thornburg Bridge is the group being considered for rezoning.

Crafton Ingram Apartments Inc. are owned by Toby Valinsky, according to the Allegheny County real estate Web site. Valinsky couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.

"If there's any area (of Crafton) that can be developed commercial, this would probably be the area most susceptible to development," Cindric said.

"The apartment buildings are over 50 years old. It would be acceptable to almost anyone in the community (for the buildings) to be developed as part of the shopping center."

Susan Prevoznak, chairwoman of the joint planning commission, said the property owners have been trying to find new uses for the land.

The developer presented a plan for a Walgreens at a June 23 joint planning commission meeting. But Michael Polzin, a spokesman for Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, said the company formally has not stated its interest in expanding to the area.

"At this point, we don't have anything lined up in the Pittsburgh market," Polzin said.

Even if Walgreens doesn't come to the area, there has been a longtime push to rezone the property.

Crafton officials have planned for the last two years to change the entire block where the nine apartment buildings sit to a district that would allow commercial development.

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