Cranberry planning director Ron Henshaw is not taking sides when it comes to restaurant preferences.
But, the pending demolition of King's Restaurant in the Cranberry Mall to make room for Red Lobster is a good thing by his estimation and not because he prefers seafood to King's "frownie brownie" or breakfast specials.
The reason he's happily anticipating the change is that it represents a reinvestment in the township's oldest commercial property.
"Certain people love King's. Certain people love Red Lobster. We're not going to get involved in that debate.
"The good thing about it is that it's a redevelopment that will freshen up the site and meet current codes and that's a good thing," Mr. Henshaw said.
The developers of Red Lobster are expected to begin demolition, scraping clean the site that fronts Route 19, within days.
A demolition permit is pending, requiring the approval of the state Department of Environmental Protection because of the potential for asbestos removal.
Once DEP signs off on the application, Cranberry will issue it within a matter of hours.
Township staff already has reviewed the plans, and supervisors approved them Nov. 20.
The new building that will be constructed will be slightly larger than the King's building: 5,880 square feet compared with 5,367 square feet.
It will be a single story structure that sits just a few feet farther back from Route 19.
It will seat 220 guests.
The construction plan is an aggressive one that calls for Red Lobster to be in operation by July, Mr. Henshaw said.
Because the building is being constructed under current land use codes, the developers will be required to conform to laws that require installation of a sidewalk, a street wall with masonry piers, streetlights and a "pedestrian pocket" with an outdoor seating area on an improved surface like stamped concrete or brick pavers.
"The idea is to beautify a little section of Route 19," the planner said.
Such requirements weren't in place when the upper level of Cranberry Mall, at the junction of Freedom Road (Route 228) and Route 19, was built in the early 1980s.
The sidewalk that is to be built will wrap around toward the mall, linking with an internal sidewalk and crosswalk.
There will be no changes in traffic circulation patterns.
"This is a great reuse of the site and we're happy to be getting it," Mr. Henshaw said.
The new restaurant is expected to employ about 100.
Red Lobster is owned by Darden Restaurants, which has more than 700 Red Lobster restaurants across the United States.
The company also owns Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse.
Karen Kane: email@example.com or 724-772-9180.