Michael Passalacqua wants to take care of business beyond his own business.
“I thought that building six private offices would be a nice addition to the landscape here,” said the owner of Angelo’s, a distinguished dining destination for three-quarters of a century.
“These will be for people who need more office space – maybe an accountant, graphic artist, insurance man – or a startup. I need only six people from Washington County who fit the bill. All I need are six.”
Passalacqua has a sixth sense for renovating space that, for 69 years, was home to his family’s venerable restaurant. He and subcontractor Dan Reardon are transforming the first floor of 955 W. Chestnut St., Washington, from a mostly gutted testament to great meals and memories to a business complex with six private offices.
The first floor has 3,500 square feet, and early plans call for each unit to be 13-by-17 with a 3-by-3 storage closet, served by a Centrex phone system and complemented by a kitchenette. Mali Torriero of Nello Construction is the architect.
The eight apartments in the upper two floors of the three-story structure will remain.
“We’re going to name the place Patricia Commons,” Passalacqua said, in honor of his mother, who worked at the site for 42 years before retiring in 1992. That was long before Michael shuttered the operation in August 2008, then opened anew two weeks later at the current venue in North Franklin Township.
Angelo’s will turn 75 in late March, a family-owned business for three generations that started as the West Chestnut Spaghetti Inn. It became Angelo’s in 1958, and Michael succeeded his father, Silvio, as sole properietor in 1992.
He publicized this new project on Facebook about two weeks ago, two weeks after he and Reardon started ripping up the old restaurant. Some seating and remnants of the once-ornate bar are intact, but not for long.
Though the work crew numbers only two, Passalacqua envisions a fairly quick transformation. “I see no reason why we can’t be done with this by mid-April.”
At that point, Passalacqua will begin marketing the new first floor. He has no tenants lined up yet.
That timing could be advantageous. Spring is a better time than winter in most facets of real estate; a business owner who had been contemplating a move probably is more inclined to relocate then.
The need for office space also may be more acute following the purchase of the Washington Trust Building by TREK Development Group of Pittsburgh. TREK’s renovation plan for the historic structure calls for a mix of commercial units and apartment buildings.
And the location of Patricia Commons, on the western edge of Washington, should be attractive geographically to would-be tenants. It is in the Washington County seat, less than a mile from Interstate 70 ramps, and near I-79 and Route 19.
Although Passalacqua declined to give a ballpark figure, he said this has been a costly endeavor, one that was made doable through the financial support of Community Bank and Washington County Council on Economic Development.
“Basically, we’ve refinanced the whole building,” he said. “The big thing is Community Bank and WCCED stretched themselves out and I’m forever grateful to both.”
Passalacqua, who purchased the building in 2004, has tried to sell or lease 955 W. Chestnut since he closed Angelo’s there five-plus years ago.
“When we moved the restaurant in 2008, it was about the time the economy and the housing market went bust.”
Now he is striving to restore that storied first floor. The architect envisions it as a comfortable, efficient complex of offices.
“We’re trying to create a modern feel,” said Torriero, of Cecil Township. “We’re using some different materials for the offices, making them maybe more like a studio.
”There will be residents above, so we’re trying to be sensitive to them, but we also have to be sound-sensitive to the clients who move into the offices.
“I think this will be a beautiful space.”
Reardon surely will have a stake in that beauty. He lives in Amwell Township, down the street from Passalacqua, and has essentially a one-person construction company known simply as Dan Reardon.
This project, he said, has great possibilities.
“We’re kind of excited about this because it’s an old building that is part of the history of Washington,” he said. “This town is ready for stuff like this. There are so many buildings with all this potential that are sitting here being wasted.
“It’s kind of neat to be involved in a project like this. It will be nice to put my name on this.”
Even if it actually will bear Patricia Passalacqua’s name.