Permit given for Newbury project in South Fayette

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Developers of the Newbury project in South Fayette have gotten the go-ahead for road work that helps put the shopping center on track to open in two years.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has issued a highway occupancy permit to EQA Landmark Communities of Pittsburgh for road improvements surrounding the planned 88-acre Newbury Market.

The shopping center eventually will contain 1.2 million square feet of retail, restaurant, hospitality and office space bordered by Route 50 and Presto-Sygan Road, near the Bridgeville interchange of Interstate 79.

Newbury must install and synchronize traffic signals, widen roads and add turning lanes prior to the market opening, to accommodate increased traffic and to boost road capacity, project manager Eric Newhouse said.

"It definitely is an important milestone, and now that we have received [the road permit], it does enable us to proceed with more work," Mr. Newhouse said. "So obviously that was very good news for Newbury to have that major item accomplished."

Deron Gabriel, commissioners' president, said the road permit is a significant step toward Newbury coming to fruition.

"That should help spur economic development down there, and we're very happy about that," he said.

The first businesses are expected to open around late 2015, Mr. Newhouse said.

Newbury has been in the works for 10 years, and developers held a groundbreaking five years ago. Since then, the anticipated opening date of the market has been pushed back several times.

Newbury still plans to build the entire $450 million, 300-acre plan, including the market, 200 single-family homes and a 250-unit apartment complex, Mr. Newhouse said.

"We're excited to be making progress on the [market] site and to begin work on the road improvement projects, all of which is substantial progress toward the ultimate goal of completing the Newbury project," he said.

Major off-site road work likely will begin in the spring on Route 50, Washington Pike and an I-79 ramp, Mr. Newhouse said.

No detours or full road closures will occur, but there will be single-lane shutdowns and lane shifts, he said.

Improvements include additional westbound left-turn lanes from Washington Pike onto Route 50 and from the southbound I-79 exit ramp onto Route 50.

A new intersection to be built on Route 50 -- with a traffic light and turning lanes -- will align Newbury's main entrance with an opposite driveway that leads to the former Star City Cinemas site.

South Fayette manager Ryan Eggleston said the intersection is "critical" for the development of both Newbury and the Star City site.

The township owns the old theater and is considering converting it into a civic center. On another part of the Star City property, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is constructing a $20.5 million pediatric center.

Newbury also will install traffic signals at Presto-Sygan Road's intersections with Millers Run and Thoms Run roads, Mr. Newhouse said.

A $500,000 grant from the Allegheny County Gaming Economic Development Fund will offset Newbury's "substantial investment" in the road work, he said.

Onsite land grading is nearly done for the first phase of Newbury Market, and two more years are needed to install underground infrastructure, build internal roads and construct buildings, Mr. Newhouse said.

"We're about two years away from having the retail development completed--the first phase," he said.

The initial phase consists of a Giant Eagle supermarket, a Courtyard Marriott hotel and two office buildings, plus a pedestrian-friendly, Main Street-style section with a plaza, fountain and mix of retail, restaurant and banking uses.

"We envision that as being the primary gathering point, or focal point, of the project," Mr. Newhouse said.

A bonus shopping plaza is expected to open sooner than the rest of Newbury, along Route 50 near the market entrance.

Work is scheduled to start in the spring for the 10-store Gateway Shops at Newbury Market, including 160 parking spaces and a nine-unit, 21,750-square-foot strip mall with four fast-food restaurants, two retail stores, two financial businesses and one medical office. A 1,820-square-foot fast-food eatery sits separately. Tenants have not been named.

Newbury has sold 100 single-family home sites -- half the number available -- in a neighborhood on a hill above Presto-Sygan Road. About 75 houses are built and occupied, Mr. Newhouse said.

Construction will start early next year for Newbury Village, a planned complex of 250 rental garden apartments on Oakridge Road, he said.

Newbury, which is considered a brownfield redevelopment, occupies the former site of the Koppers chemical plant.

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer:

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