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Committee to hear multiuse Montour proposal

| Monday, Dec. 10, 2001

Gary Sheffler has a vision for a large-scale development project in Coraopolis that could attract a major grocery store.

Sheffler, who owns an engineering firm in Moon Township, has a plan to develop the 75-acre Montour Railroad property along Route 51.

Roughly half of the site is in Robinson Township, and a few acres are in Moon Township. The Montour Creek divides the Coraopolis and Robinson Township portions of the property.

Sheffler's plan calls for a 162,000-square-foot retail center on the Coraopolis side and a 191,000-square-foot light industrial facility on the Robinson side. Moon's piece of the property is slated for small office buildings.

To attract a wide range of tenants, Sheffler has asked for nonrestrictive zoning.

"We are really subject to the wishes of the tenants," he said at a Coraopolis Council meeting Wednesday. Sheffler will present his plan again at the planning committee meeting Dec. 17.

Sheffler said that he has no definite tenants lined up. A major grocery store chain is interested, he said, but they will not commit to the project until there is an exit ramp from Interstate 79 at Groveton.

"It's keeping us from having a lot of retail interest," Sheffler said.

The nearest exit from the highway is in Neville Island.

Councilwoman Terry Kirkpatrick said that the borough's initial thoughts for the site included office and professional buildings.

Some council members suggested that a new municipal building and public safety building could be constructed on the site.

The proximity to the center of the borough is a concern.

There is a wetlands area on the site that will be preserved, and the Montour Trail might be extended through the site to this area.

"It's going to be a very pleasant center," he said.

Attorney Doug Skowron is involved with securing government funding for the project.

"It's an expensive site to develop," Skowron said.

There are grants and low-interest loans available from the county and state governments for development that involves environmental remediation.

Development of the site has required significant environmental cleanup.

"We have resolved all the environmental issues on the site," Sheffler said.

Five to seven feet of fill will need to be added to the property because it is in a flood plain.

The project organizers will close on the property in March. Sheffler estimated that this would be a three- to four-year project.

He plans to bring examples of how other municipalities handle multiuse zoning.

Coraopolis already provides water and sewage service to the entire site.

"We wouldn't have any problems in terms of capacity," said Bill Easton, superintendent of public works.

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