Rezoning of two districts approved in McCandless

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In the late 1970s, developers dreamed of building a skyscraper with a revolving restaurant on land along McKnight Road that is now occupied by Trader Horn, Book Country, the old Bally's gym and a large parking lot.

Land use administrator Bruce G. Betty said the township is considering introducing residential development to the area in addition to those commercial properties. Last month, the township held a public hearing aimed at amending the zoning of the Blazier Drive district as well as another area at the McCandless Corporate Center off Babcock Boulevard.

Manager Tobias Cordek explained that council's approval on Dec. 16 means that both tracts are now zoned C-5, which means they can provide mixed-use opportunities for developers.

"This zoning freshens the innovative approach they wanted to take back in 1978," said Mr. Cordek, referring to the skyscraper plans. "It also adds incentives to build a larger, unified development so that area can be re-master planned."

The site of Rave cinemas -- formerly Showcase Cinemas -- is zoned D (Development) and sits in the middle of a flood plain, which limits the property to what it already is -- a movie theater.

The adjacent Trader Horn and Bally's properties allow for more planning opportunities, including the possibility of homes.

Farther south on McKnight, Mr. Cordek noted that the office buildings within the McCandless Corporate Center are 100 percent occupied.

There is one vacant district in that area, he said, explaining that there are multiple parcels of land in a district. With the C-5 zoning designation, that area is also ready for mixed-use development.It's currently being advertised as the site for a new hotel, he said.

Also during the meeting, council unanimously passed the township's $19.6 million budget for 2014. This means real estate tax rates will remain 1.29 mills, one of the lowest in Allegheny County, according to Council President Robert Powers.

Jill Cueni-Cohen, freelance writer:

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