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Developers Plan Apartments for Site of Historic Moon Home

A vacated historic home with a colorful past may be demolished in favor of garden-style apartments and new commercial space.

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 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. 

Just Chuck August 24, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Oh, I get it, we want development in Moon, just not THAT development. Buy it and do with it what want you want or shut up and sit down.
Janet McGuire August 27, 2012 at 06:52 PM
I am all in favor of building some type of housing, but, hopefully, it would be "green" and below $200,000 with no commercial store fronts. I don't think it would create too much traffic either, certainly no where near what the "W" store would bring. Maybe we could persuade the "W" store to abandon their plans, sell the property to somebody who would build an entire senior project, from apartments to assisted living, to a nursing facility. We need that in Moon Township far more than we need a Walmart!
Dan Hall September 01, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Who were the gundelfinger's? I've lived within half a mile of this house for the last 28 years and never knew it was even there.
Jenna Staul September 01, 2012 at 09:39 PM
That's an excellent question, and frankly, I wish I were able to find more on the family itself. I know that Philip Gundelfinger built the property in the 1920s and died there in the early 1970s. Census records from 1930 list his occupation as 'dealer' and industry as 'investment.' As it says above, his wife was there until her death in 2005. We'll continue to follow the story and perhaps have more information on that at a later time. And actually, I wasn't aware that the home was back there either until a reader pointed it out to me.
Peggy O'Neil Smith September 16, 2012 at 10:56 PM
I was friends with the Gundelfinger's housekeepers children. I spent the night their with the twins, Ruth and Garnette Lottes, 1960 graduates of Moon. I never met the Gundelfingers but my father knew Phil. He told me today that Phil was a sports writer and wrote about golf.

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