Pittsburgh URA board approves sale of Lawrenceville site to Paragon Food Service

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A Lawrenceville food distributor is a step closer to expanding after a vote today today by the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority board.

Board members voted unanimously to sell nearly 13 acres of land at the 62nd Street Industrial Park, the former Tippins International site, to Paragon Food Service for $70,000 an acre, or nearly $910,000.

Paragon plans to build a new fresh-produce distribution and processing plant at the site, perhaps in concert with greenhouses that would enable the company to grow fruits and vegetables.

Elaine Bellin, Paragon president, said the new distribution and processing plant will be in the 80,000-square-foot range, which is about double the size of its current facility.

With the expansion, the company hopes to increase its 105-employee workforce by 20 percent in the next three years.

While the new development still must go before the board for final approval, Ms. Bellin said she hopes to get started on the construction next spring.

Paragon, which has been based in Pittsburgh for half a century, distributes fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods in the region to a number of national, regional and local restaurant chains.

"We are very excited about this prospect," Ms. Bellin said of the expansion.

Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.

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