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Officials Report Renewed Interest in Moon Township Commercial Development

A bolstered economy and planned military commissary have sparked developers' interest in Moon Township.

An upturn in the economy and the planned Walmart construction on University Boulevard has renewed developers' interest in , officials said.

"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 , 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,   

The owner of the proposed Moon Township  said he plans to 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 , construction on the 43,000-square foot regional commissary is expected to . 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 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 has been in the 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." 

RealMoonResident May 29, 2012 at 01:03 PM
This is the only time I've ever seen "Wal-Mart", "Hilton" and "Early Childhood Development" in the same article.
Jenna Staul (Editor) May 29, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Ha! Good point.
Brian May 29, 2012 at 02:37 PM
How can the WalMart project be delayed since 2007? Is this the typical planning and approval process for these types of projects? Why no timeline from WalMart for construction? There has to be a timeline. Since 2007, other parts of the region have cleared land and witnessed robust construction (e.g., Settler's Ridge, Consol Energy Center). Moreover, it seems a bit shortsighted and predictable to use WalMart as an anchor on that site. Rather, visionary leadership would seek to establish a lifestyle center, uniquely designed with higher caliber retail and mixed office use - sort of Homestead "lite," or Easton Town Centre in Columbus, Ohio, rather than a retailer, such as WalMart. Does anyone know if WalMart has predicted the number of outlots that will be developed for ancillary businesses besides another car dealership that pepper that stretch of road already?
Jenna Staul (Editor) May 29, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Hi Brian, Just to clarify: Walmart has not made public a timeline or ground-breaking date for the project, nor have they commented on the planned Moon store since 2011. Walmart purchased the property in 2007 and about a year ago, the township settled a lawsuit with the company, which enabled it to move forward with the project: http://moon.patch.com/articles/moon-walmart-construction-back-on-track Now the final step is for Walmart to obtain a PennDOT highway occupancy permit. Once they've done that, they would essentially be able to move forward with construction. PennDOT said there is no estimated date for when that process may be completed. Hope that helps, Jenna

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