Commercial project heralded by Cranberry officials for economic impact and more

Penguins moving practice facility to commercial project in township

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Development plans for one of Cranberry’s single largest vacant parcels — acreage that once had been eyed for development of an enclosed mall — are being welcomed by officials, who describe the project as good for the township for a variety of reasons.

The new development, on the north side of Route 228 near the interchange with Interstate 79, will include 183,808 square feet of commercial space in a single building that will house UPMC sports medicine offices and skating rinks for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“It’s a great project,” said planning director Ron Henshaw. The first phase of the plans won unanimous approval of township supervisors Jan. 30.

To be developed in several stages, the first phase calls first for construction of the office building on 11.11 acres just west of Dick’s Sporting Goods. The next stage is three restaurant buildings, each ranging in size from 5,000 to 7,000 square feet; the third stage is a hotel and a mixed-use retail building; and the final stage of the first phase is two restaurants.

The four stages of phase one, being developed by Cranberry businessman Gary Sippel, will cover about half of the 90-acre tract, Mr. Henshaw said. While supervisors approved the master plan for phase one in December, particulars of the development — building sizes and uses — could change as the project unfolds.

No potential tenants have been revealed for any part of the project other than the UPMC building that will house the Penguins skating rinks. No plans have been submitted for phase two.

Mr. Henshaw said the project is important because it nails down uses of land that has long been eyed by a variety of developers and due to the mix of uses that’s planned for the site.

“A development like this spreads out traffic much more because of the variety of uses planned,” he said. Also, those involved with the project have been “the most cooperative group to work with. They understand our concerns and they’ve been willing to address them,” Mr. Henshaw said.

Chief among those concerns is traffic flow and road improvements. The developers have agreed to construct a roundabout with a bike lane to stage the flow of traffic from the site onto Route 228, one of the township’s most congested transportation corridors.

“It will be functional, safe, efficient and look very nice, too,” Mr. Henshaw said, estimating the cost of the round-about “in the $400,000 to $500,000 range.”

He added that the design for the building also is “very attractive.”

The two-story structure will house what UPMC has described as “leading edge sports medicine” offices on one side of the structure, essentially overlooking two side-by-side ice rinks that will be used by the Penguins as a practice facility. The team is leaving its Southpointe practice facility. Team representatives have said the rinks will be available for public use when not being used by the Penguins.

“We see this is a world-class practice facility that will host mini-conferences and events. And having UPMC and its medical offices dealing with sports medicine, leading edge work [in such areas] as concussions, well, it’s a pretty neat fit,” Mr. Henshaw said. He said that renderings of the building show a physical therapy room overlooking the rinks. “It’s an amazing project. The economic impact on this community will have a huge ripple effect when you consider the use of restaurants, hotels, retail."

The time frame for the project involves an expedited construction schedule. “They want to be open for the 2015 Penguins season so they need to get moving,” he said. Site development is expected to begin as soon as the weather allows.

Karen Kane: or at 724-772-9180.

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