Developers have unveiled plans to construct a cluster of buildings for residential and commercial use at the site of an abandoned mansion on Beaver Grade Road.
The Mars Township-based R&D Holdings Inc. has placed an offer on the 7-acre, Gundelfinger estate on Beaver Grade Road and is filing requests for a series of building-code variances through Moon Township.
Thomas Janidas, of R&B Holdings, said the company hopes to break ground on the eight-unit development by spring of 2013, but the discovery of coal underneath the historic property could delay the project.
R&B Holdings' offer on the land is contingent upon approval from both the township and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Janidas said the company must receive DEP approval to remove deposits of coal beneath the land.
"We were looking to break ground by spring 2013, but we do have that glitch," Janidas said. "(DEP has) said they don't want us to remove the coal. We're trying to remove it. We're trying to prove it's nuisance coal."
If approval is granted, it could take crews four to five months to remove the coal from the property to prepare for construction, he said.
If the project comes to fruition, the company will construct three mixed-use buildings facing Beaver Grade, leasing space to companies on the first floor and featuring residential housing on the upper floors.
Four other garden-style apartment buildings are planned to be built behind the mixed-use properties, Janidas said.
"We're looking for small, client business," Janidas said of the commercial space in the buildings. "Maybe a lawyer's office or a tax office or something like that. Maybe even a hair salon that would provide a service to the community.
"We think we're far enough away from Robert Morris University that we won't attract students," he said. "These will be market-rate apartments with elevators, suited for senior citizens but not exclusively a senior community."
Developers plan to demolish the abandoned Gundelfinger home on the land, which has remained vacant since 2005 when former owner Elizabeth Gundelfinger died.
The home, now boarded up and in disrepair, was constructed by her husband Philip Gundelfinger in 1924. With its prominent colonnade porch and sloping roof, the home is surrounded by woods and is visible only from a gravel path off Beaver Grade Road.
After Elizabeth Gundelfinger's death, the property was purchased by the Iowa-based meditation movement Global Country of World Peace for $595,000, according to property records.
The group planned to perform an extensive renovation of the home to convert it into a Maharishi meditation palace for its followers, but quickly placed the property back on the market.
Richard Quinn, finance director for the Global Country of World Peace, said the group opted to not use the property as a meditation center. He declined to comment on the sale of the building.
"The property is still for sale," Quinn said.
Empty and sequestered from the main commercial and residential areas of the township, the home was recently used in the making of a horror movie, Janidas said.
He said if the sale is finalized, R&B Holdings will offer the house up to local SWAT teams and fire departments for drills before the structure is razed.
"They had approval from the owner, but there was a movie company up there with cameras shooting a monster movie," he said. "I walked up there and they had a girl hanging from a tree, and it was for this movie.
"Removing the home would be a part of the plan for the project," Janidas said.