Despite weather, commercial projects proceeding

March 30, 2014
An 87-room Holiday Inn Express, under construction off Racetrack Road, is expected to open later this year in North Strabane Township. - Rick Shrum/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

This winter, by consensus, was harsher than its predecessor. But not necessarily to the Holiday Inn Express project off Racetrack Road.

Work is progressing at the 87-room, short-stay hotel in North Strabane Township. It is targeted to open in July or August, later than originally expected.

“Weather did hold us up,” said Jerry Hamerski, spokesman for Double J Development, the Morgantown, W.Va.-based owner and contractor. “We’re inside drywalling now and coming along pretty well. We’re getting ready to do more work on the outside.”

He said, however, that the milder winter of 2012-13 caused numerous delays as well. “It took almost seven or eight months to do the work and the grouting. It was a bad winter because it was wet. It never got cold enough.”

The hotel, highly visible from Interstate 79, is on a hill above Burger King near the entrance to Meadowlands Business Park. It will be a low-cost, few-frills facility. Work began in December 2012, but was halted two months later when workers hit a void in the ground while drilling for the foundation. Then weather wreaked havoc.

Tender Care coming

Kids yearning to learn soon will be doing so at Park Place at the Meadowlands.

Tender Care Learning Center will open in early April, according to David Biafora of Metro Property Management, the Morgantown, W.Va.-based developer of the ongoing project. It is on a 47-acre tract east of the Racetrack Road-Route 19 intersection, mostly in North Strabane Township.

A 7,500-square-foot BFS superstore was the first structure to open on the site, on Oct. 30. It is on the small sliver located in South Strabane Township and features the convenience store plus Sunoco gas pumps, a car wash and three BFS franchisees located inside: Tim Hortons restaurant, Little Caesars Pizza and Dairy Queen Grill & Chill.

Tender Care, which serves children from 6 months to 10 years old, will be in the two-story, 39,000-square-foot building being constructed behind there. Biafora said last week that interior work has been completed on the 10,000-square-foot center, but not in the rest of the building. Parking lot paving also had to be completed.

Weather, not surprisingly, delayed the center’s opening, originally targeted for early January.

That second building is part of the 14-acre Phase I of Park Place. When finished, it also will feature Napoli’s Restaurant; Sweet Frog yogurt; investment firm Waddell & Reed; a dry cleaners; and a sunbed tanning facility, hair salon and nail salon.

Biafora said his company was “getting ready to close on a loan in April” to begin work on a complex with 200 apartments and a fitness center.

Outpatient center proceeds

The Bucs are back, meaning baseballs and baseball talk are in the air. But that wasn’t why Larry Pantuso used a ballyard analogy to describe Washington Hospital’s outpatient center.

Again, it was the wacky winter.

“We thought the weather would throw us a curveball, but it didn’t,” said Pantuso, a hospital spokesman. “We’re on track for an early fall opening.”

Work on the center is proceeding at Meadows Landing, a 204-acre project just off Route 19 in South Strabane Township. It’s a well-struck 3-wood uphill from Park Place at the Meadowlands.

Tri-State Surgery Center and Washington Ear Nose & Throat will be relocating to a more spacious facility than its current home on Leonard Avenue. The surgery center will occupy about 19,000 of the 51,000 square feet of the project, which also will have the WHS Women’s Diagnostic Center; offices of Southwestern Gastroenterology Oncology Associates; Keystone Anesthesia Associates; and other physicians’ offices.

Work is progressing on the Washington Area Teachers Credit Union building nearby, and a GetGo convenience store/gasoline station has been approved for the site.

Graziano Construction and development Co. of Ohara Township is doing the work.

Neither Hal Kestler nor Gerald Cipriani of Meadows Landing Associates, owner and developer of the project, could be reached for comment.

Also of note:

NiSource Midstream Services, Pittsburgh, a unit of Columbia Pipeline Group, has been named the 2013 Northeast Oil and Gas Awards Midstream Company of the Year.

The awards serve as a platform for the oil and gas industry to demonstrate and celebrate advances made in the key areas of environmental stewardship, efficiency, innovation, corporate social responsibility and health and safety. The finalists were judged by an extensive and independent group of oil and gas experts from various disciplines in the industry.

Jamie M. Blayney, office manager and director of operations for Harris Wealth Management, McMurray, has otained her Financial Services Specialist designation, marking a person’s long-term commitment to professionalism on behalf of clients. The designation establishers her competence and business experience and marks a commitment to the American College’s and the National Association of Insurance Financial Advisors’ code of ethics.

Ed Hirzel, P.E., has joined Steel Nation Inc., Washington, as its director of engineering. With nearly 20 years of experience in the engineering field, he has designed hundreds of commercial and industrial buildings, public works projects, including water and wastewater treatment facilities, and other capital projects for clients worldwide. He holds a B.S. in civil engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Steel Nation is a leading designer and builder of natural gas compressor stations, primarily mid-stream but also transmission and storage compression facilities, throughout the Marcellus, Utica, and other North American shale plays.

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won seven individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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