HERMITAGE SQUARE City OKs loan for razing



City officials were updated on a number of economic development projects.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The city will lend Hermitage Development Corp. $36,000 to help tear down the fire-damaged portion of the Hermitage Square Plaza at Pa. Route 18 and U.S. Route 62.
A portion of the plaza was destroyed in an April 1998 fire, and the city has been after the plaza owner to complete demolition of the fire-damaged area for years.
The eastern end of the plaza wasn't damaged by the fire but has been vacant for some time.
City Manager Gary Hinkson said city commissioners voted Wednesday to lend Hermitage Development Corp. $36,000 at 2.85 percent interest over five years to help pay to raze that section.
The money will come from the city's revolving loan fund, Hinkson said, adding that the total project cost is estimated at $40,000.
The company has some general redevelopment plans for the plaza and will meet with city officials Friday to discuss those plans, Hinkson said.
Approved plans
Commissioners also approved land development plans for two commercial projects: a 14,735-square-foot Eckerd Drugs store on the southeast corner of Pa. Route 18 and Lamor Road, and the proposed 60-unit senior citizen housing complex at Lamor and North Keel Ridge Road.
A vacant ice cream store is on the first site, while the housing complex involves building 12 buildings on a 20-acre parcel of vacant land. The city is a partner with Mercer County Housing Authority in the housing development.
There were other economic development issues on the agenda.
Remodeling of the vacant County Market building in the 2000 block of East State Street has begun.
Rien Construction of Brookfield is buying the building and is remodeling it to lease it to Community Counseling Center of Mercer County, which wants to relocate from other facilities in the city.
Community Counseling wants to eventually buy the building from Rien and has already approached the city about a $100,000 grant to help fund the purchase. That money could come from the city's federal Community Development Block Grant funds in 2005, Hinkson said.
Wal-Mart
Commissioners agreed to file an application with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for a traffic light at the entrance to the Wal-Mart Supercenter being built on North Hermitage Road between Stupka Motors and the Shenango Valley YMCA.
Although the city must apply for the light permit, the project developer will pay for the installation, Hinkson said.
The current Wal-Mart store on the Shenango Valley Freeway will be vacated when the Supercenter is ready for occupancy, and Hinkson said Wal-Mart has informed the city that it has a buyer for the building.
A representative of the buyer has contacted the city with some preliminary discussion about a total redevelopment of the site, including possibly razing the old Wal-Mart building, Hinkson said.
He said he's also met with representatives of the Glimcher Group of Pittsburgh, owner of the Hermitage Hills Plaza located between the Freeway and East State Street, about a proposed $5 million movie theater complex coming to the plaza.
The city is assisting in examining improved access to the site that could include traffic signals at the East State Street entrance and the Freeway entrance, Hinkson said.

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