Chick-fil-A appears headed to Old Mill

April 28, 2014

Apparently, fowl will be prominent fare at the Old Mill.

Chick-fil-A appears to be headed for the retail project in South Strabane Township. A legal notice in the Monday edition of the Observer-Reporter said the township zoning hearing board will have a public hearing May 12 on an application for a variance to the number of parking spaces required.

GBC Design Inc. is making the application on behalf of Chick-fil-A. GBC provides design services in civil engineering, land surveying and architecture.

Gary Rouse, president of the Akron, Ohio-based firm, said the variance seeks fewer spaces – 66 – than the 100-plus that were planned.

He said Chick-fil-A, based on its drive-through window business, needs more room for its building and less for parking.

Chick-fil-A is not officially headed to the Old Mill. “We’ve been working with them, but we do not have a signed lease,” said Sam Adler, leasing representative for TSG Properties of St. Louis, owner and developer of the 104-acre site.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A Inc. did not respond Monday to an emailed request for information.

The variance application, however, indicates Chick-fil-A plans to locate on the site of the failed Foundry complex. If so, it would be the fifth tenant in four months to commit to the revived retail endeavor.

Hobby Lobby, a national arts and crafts chain, and Field & Stream, an outdoors store, signed leases since Christmas. LongHorn Steakhouse and Buffalo Wild Wings have not signed, but were approved for liquor license transfers.

Adler said the latter two may be “close” to securing leases.

An interesting game of chicken will be materializing along Route 19 in the township. Not only will Buffalo Wild Wings and Chick-fil-A be in the same project, but KFC is a mere mile away along the Murtland Avenue stretch of the road.

Only two businesses are operating on the Old Mill site, the Olive Garden and Max & Erma’s restaurants.

They are next to each other near the front of a project that was revived and renamed over the past year or so.

In 2007, J.C. Penney was the first store to open in a development christened the Foundry. Three others followed, but subsidence issues caused damage to the buildings, forcing three to leave by mid-2008. Penney returned to Washington Mall, and Bed Bath & Beyond and Ross Dress for Less fled.

The Max & Erma’s property was unaffected, and it was the only tenant to remain. Olive Garden opened next door in December 2012.

Adler said negotiations between TSG and and other potential tenants are ongoing and an announcement may come within a couple of weeks. “There’s a lot happening,” he said, “but I’m not sure if there is anything reportable yet.”

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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