The tallest building in Waynesburg has sat vacant for quite a few years now, but we learned last week plans are in the works to renovate the old county office building and convert it into a 28-unit apartment building.
This ambitious project is being spearheaded by John McNay, the owner of the building, and Martin Padezanin of George Construction Inc. of Coraopolis. According to an application filed with the Waynesburg Borough Zoning Hearing Board seeking a variance for the project, the duo plan to renovate the building, at an estimated cost of $2.5 million, and turn it into four two-bedroom apartments, eight three-bedroom apartments and 16 one-bedroom apartments.
This will be no easy task. In 2009, a contractor proposed purchasing the building and converting it into offices. The project, however, was never realized and we are skeptical, unfortunately, that this project will ever get off the ground.
First, the property is zoned B-1 for business use. An apartment, or multi-family dwelling, is a permitted use in a B-1 district. However, McNay and Padezanin will need a variance from the zoning board for parking.
The zoning ordinance would require the building have at least 42 parking spaces. Not enough property exists at the site to provide that many spaces. One idea that has been discussed is for McNay and Padezanin to lease available parking spaces in the borough parking lot on Strawberry Street, about a block away. A variance would still be needed under that arrangement because, according to the ordinance, the spaces must be within 50 feet of the building.
Another concern we have is Padezanin’s perception that the building structurally, “is in really good shape.” The six-story building, which was constructed in 1906 by the People’s National Bank, has a few windows broken out and, after some brick tumbled off the building last summer, the borough closed North Church Street.
So, while we wonder about the soundness of the building’s exterior, we have no argument that most of the work will have to be carried out on the building’s interior. Any building, no matter how sturdy its construction, suffers the effects of time and weather, particularly when it has been unoccupied for several years.
It would be a boon to downtown Waynesburg to see this building renovated and occupied. If all goes well with the borough’s zoning and hearing board and variances are granted, McNay and Padezanin say work could begin before the end of the year and take about 18 months to complete.
We have our doubts this project will get off the ground. Perhaps the best fate for this building would be to have it razed.
Let’s hope McNay and Padezanin prove us wrong.