Whole Foods seeks to open in Upper St. Clair

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Whole Foods Market took its first step this week in preparing to open a new location in Upper St. Clair.

The natural foods grocer on Monday presented Upper St. Clair commissioners with plans for a 40,000-square-foot store at the new Siena at St. Clair development at the former headquarters for Consol along Route 19.

The commissioners unanimously approved the company's request to transfer a liquor license from Greencastle Cafe in Greencastle in south central Pennsylvania to Whole Foods.

The company hopes to pattern the store after one in Wexford, which includes a small pub for cocktails, wine and craft beers. It also would have an area with about 75 seats for customers to eat prepared foods.

"It's a legitimate restaurant," said lawyer Stanley J. Wolowski, who was seeking the liquor license transfer for the store. He noted that patrons can dine in or take out beer and meals.

Mr. Wolowski said police, residents and school leaders were informed of the application and did not object, and he expected the restaurant to be open from about 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

He said the company has never been cited by the state Liquor Control Board for violations at its four other locations in Pennsylvania that serve alcohol. The state allows 100 other grocers, including the nearby Giant Eagle in Village Square, to sell alcohol.

Servers in the restaurant area will receive training and certification from the Liquor Control Board's Responsible Alcohol Training Program and will use scanners to authenticate identification. A photo ID will be requested from anyone who wants to purchase alcohol.

"The restaurant will have a 100 percent carding policy," Mr. Wolowski said. "Whole Foods is a reputable, responsible company."

Started in 1978 with a small natural foods store in Austin, Texas, the company now has more than 350 stores in North America and the United Kingdom.

Store officials said they soon will present the township with plans for zoning approval, and the construction timeline will depend on those approvals.

Also Monday, commissioners closed the third and final part of a public hearing and approved a request for a new residential development off Boyce Plaza Road.

Called Torrente Luxury Apartments, the 220-unit apartment complex is the latest in a series of plans for the site going back to 1999 that included a personal care home and other housing developments.

The property was purchased by Residential Development & Construction in Bridgeville, which hopes to construct nine buildings and a clubhouse and include walking trails and open space. The apartments would be marketed to young professionals with rental fees ranging from $1,200 to $1,800 per month for the one- and two-bedroom units.

Although commissioners welcome the multi-family development, which is called for in the township's 2005 Comprehensive Plan, such a project would exacerbate traffic congestion in the Boyce/Mayview Road corridor.

The developer has agreed to pay $400,000 for traffic improvements, including a traffic signal and left-turn lane onto Boyce Plaza Road.

Traffic engineer Mark Magilotti estimated the cost of the project at nearly $700,000, which could be made up through state funding and fees from other tenants on the road, including several office buildings and a psychiatric hospital.

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Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


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