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Former Oakmont Giant Eagle site remains barren

| Thursday, July 24, 2008

It has been a little more than a year since the Giant Eagle on Allegheny River Boulevard closed, and Mayor Robert Fescemyer continues to hear from residents who miss the grocery store and wonder what will replace it.

"I get a lot of calls, and people on the street are asking me what's going on," Fescemyer said.

The mayor said he doesn't have any answers.

ECHO Retail, a division of ECHO Development, based in O'Hara and affiliated with Giant Eagle, took over ownership of the site July 1, Fescemyer said.

Councilman Tim Favo, who heads the community development committee, said ECHO plans to develop the site. But ECHO officials have not told local leaders about their plans.

ECHO officials could not be reached for comment.

The parking lot is chained off, and weeds are growing around the shuttered 25,000-square-foot building.

Favo said borough officials are signing a lease with ECHO to make the parking spaces available for borough residents.

Favo said the borough persuaded ECHO to keep the lights on at the 1.25-acre site at the corner of Allegheny River Boulevard and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The councilman said he would have liked to have seen a Giant Eagle Express at the site but believes ECHO officials are "still contemplating their options."

The closest grocery store is the Verona Giant Eagle, about a mile away.

Although other shopping options are nearby, the closing of the Oakmont Giant Eagle posed a challenge for the elderly.

"The sad thing about (the closing) is that Oakmont has an aging population," Fescemyer said. "Many are on a fixed income and can't drive."

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