A $3 million state economic development grant will go a distance toward preparing the way for a new commercial development in Cranberry that could include a UPMC sports medicine facility and a practice skating rink for the Penguins.
That's the assessment of Cranberry manager Jerry Andree, who also serves as president of the Butler County Community Development Corp., which applied for the grant on behalf of the Summit of Cranberry Woods. Don Rodgers of Cranberry is the developer of the project, which is planned for the south side of Route 228, adjacent to the Westinghouse corporate campus.
"This is a very ambitious project, and a lot of [preliminary] work has been put into it. We're fortunate to get this economic development money," he said of the grant, which was announced by Gov. Tom Corbett's office Feb. 11.
Mr. Rodgers had planned a different development for the site, one that envisioned two hotels, a movie theater and housing. At that time, it was to be known as the Villages of Cranberry Woods.
One hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, has been built and is open. In January, Mr. Rodgers went to the township with a new concept that included a partnership with UPMC and the Penguins. The name could change, but it's currently being referred to as the Summit. Township officials are expecting to review plans in April.
"There's a lot of engineering work that needs to be done. There have been a lot of adjustments that had to be made during the preliminary work," Mr. Andree said.
The preliminary process with UPMC, Mr. Rodgers and the Penguins has produced a plan that is acceptable to township staff, Mr. Andree said.
"It's about connectivity and design. We had initial concerns, but I give credit to them for coming to understand what we want and can support in Cranberry," Mr. Andree said. "It's a complex project with a lot of moving pieces."
The developers are hoping for an expedited approval process so that site work can be finished in the summer, followed by fall construction. Developers are hoping for a mid-2014 opening. The state grant can be used for any on-site work.
The community development corporation had applied for $8 million.
Karen Kane: email@example.com or 724-772-9180.