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Developer plans 3-unit shopping center in Cheswick

| Saturday, May 29, 2004

CHESWICK -- A Butler venture hopes to begin construction in mid-June on a $1 million retail complex at Hill Avenue and Pittsburgh Street.

The 6,600-square-foot, three-unit shopping center called Cheswick Commons would be erected on the empty lot where a BP gas station used to sit, according to Jerome Oliver of America First Enterprises, the project's developer.

The station closed in March 2002, and the property has been vacant since.

America First Enterprises is a Butler-based partnership between Oliver and his brother, Jaymie, that specializes in developing property in small, older towns.

The partnership has completed similar projects in New Castle, New Brighton and Beaver Falls, Oliver said.

A Subway restaurant franchise and Galaxy Video Rental already have committed to leasing space at Cheswick Commons and room remains for one more tenant, he said.

There also are Subway stores about a mile away in either direction in Springdale and Harmar. Another movie rental store, Act I Video, is in the Cheswick Shopping Center just across the street.

The single-story shopping plaza in the borough's commercial district would include an off-street parking lot for customers, Oliver said.

Oliver said he hopes to obtain a building permit from the borough during the first week of June and begin construction soon thereafter.

His original permit request was denied by the borough's zoning officer because the project failed to comply with Cheswick's setback and parking regulations.

Specifically, the borough's zoning ordinance calls for 33 parking spaces for a development this size, but Oliver proposes to build 29 instead, according to borough Secretary Andy Bock.

Also, the project's side and rear yard setback distances did not meet specifications, Bock said.

On Wednesday, the zoning hearing board will have an appeal hearing about whether to grant America First Enterprises variances for these aspects of the project.

"The variances are necessary to make this thing work, so I certainly hope it goes well," Oliver said. "We think Cheswick is a really solid, hard-working community, and we're excited to bring some new investment to the area."

Additional Information:

Coming up

Who: Cheswick Zoning Hearing Board.

What: Appeal hearing for Cheswick Commons.

When: 7 p.m. June 2.

Where: Borough office, 220 S. Atlantic Ave.

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