Officials Report Renewed Interest in Moon Township Commercial Development
A bolstered economy and planned military commissary have sparked developers' interest in Moon Township.
"Definitely looking back at the applications for 2011, it was a slow year for development plans," said Moon Planning Director Adam McGurk. "It's hard to say what it is, but it does say that the economy is picking up in terms of commercial development."
McGurk said more than 20 projects are now in the construction phase in the township.
Developers this year have unveiled plans for a new, 130,000-square foot Hilton hotel, slated to be constructed off Fed Ex Drive. The project was set to break ground in 2008, but developers backed out as the economy sank into a recession that year.
The 117-room Hilton Homewood Suites, which will be designed by the Pittsburgh-based Gateway Engineers, is still in the planning phases, but could break ground as early as this summer, developers said.
The owner of the proposed Moon Township Goddard School for Early Childhood Development said he plans to open the school's doors in January 2013. The 8,500 square-foot building will sit on the cul-de-sac on Commerce Drive
Randy Forister, senior director of development at the Allegheny County Airport Authority, said a strengthening economy has sparked new interest in airport-area development.
"We are seeing a lot more activity this year, much more so than in the last two years," Forister said. "I think it's the economy picking up, and I think that people in general like to be near the airport."
Forister said construction is set to begin later this year on the first, 53,000-square foot building in the Pittsburgh International Business Park, a planned campus of office buildings to be located off Cherrington Parkway.
Construction on the project will be phased over a ten-year period, and will take place on 40 acres of land adjacent to the Cherrington Corporate Center.
The project has been in the works for a number of years, Forrester said. In 2009, the Moon Transportation Authority and airport authority partnered to connect utility infrastructure in the area. Ohio-based Continental Real Estate, which developed the Waterfront in Homestead, and Cranberry Business Park developer Chaska Property Advisors, are spearheading the project.
Allegheny County, which owns the property, is leasing the land to the joint venture. No tenants for the property have yet been announced.
Forister said the project has helped "jumpstart development” in the area.
"You’re right by the airport. It's 19 miles from downtown so you have easy access there," he said of the Cherrington Business Park. "It's just going to be a great business location."
Mark Handlovitch, a Robinson-based Remax broker, said commercial developers are eyeing the planned University Boulevard military commissary, which could draw military personnel from across the region to the township.
After a series of setbacks, construction on the 43,000-square foot regional commissary is expected to begin this year. The building, which will replace the existing Oakdale commissary, will be built on the corner of the Interstate 376 Business Route and University Boulevard.
"There's definitely more interest in the airport corridor," Handlovitch said. "I think it's been stagnant for a while—really since the airport moved 20 years ago. But with projects like Walmart and the military commissary, you're going to have a lot of people coming into this township."
Walmart, which announced plans to build a 150,000 square-foot store on the grounds of the former West Hills Shopping Center, is now working with PennDOT traffic engineers to obtain a highway occupancy permit, said PennDOT spokesman James Struzzi. No ground-breaking date is yet available for the project.
Handlovitch said he believes Walmart’s arrival in the township could be a boon to area business. The project has been in the planning phases since the national retailer purchased the defunct shopping center in 2007.
The former plaza has been razed, leaving a vacant lot at the corner of University Boulevard and Brodhead Road.
"There's good and bad that can come with it," said Handlovitch of the Walmart construction. "But the bottom line is, it was an old rundown plaza. If we want to see growth as a township, we need updated buildings and plazas. We need new development coming in."