Mixed used suggested for Blazier Drive development in McCandless
A drawing of how developers might want to use the land off McKnight Road in McCandless where the former Trader Horn store was located has been released by the municipality.
The rendering, which will be up for discussion at the Oct. 2 Planning Commission meeting , calls for developing the 23-acre site along Blazier Drive around a central green surrounded by a mix of retail shops, cottages and a three-story main building dedicated to senior housing.
The site has been mostly vacant since Trader Horn shut its store down in November 2014 after 22 years. The property is where Wal-Mart wanted to build a supercenter several years ago.
AdVenture Development and Continental Real Estate Co. are teaming up to develop the property. AdVenture, which is based in Selma, N.C., developed the McCandless Crossing shopping center. Columbus, Ohio, based Continental Real Estate developed the Waterfront shopping center in Homestead.
Town manager Toby Cordek said the Oct. 2 meeting will be a first opportunity for planners to ask questions and offer opinions about the proposed development.
“We refer to that initial meeting as a sketch meeting because there literally is a sketch that is provided for the planning commission members to look at and discuss,” he said. “It’s pretty common for a project to change once that meeting occurs and the developers have a clearer picture of what the town might want to see happen with a project.”
Kevin Dougherty of AdVenture Development said the process, which includes opportunities for residents to offer thoughts and suggestions for a project, is the way McCandless Crossing was developed.
The mixed-use approach of blending shops, offices and housing on a single site similar to McCandless Crossing — and now the Blazier Drive project being proposed — is a popular trend that can help improve a project’s chances for success, said Dougherty, adding that developments that put residents within walking distance of shops, restaurants and offices are desirable for both older and younger people.
In December 2016, Wal-Mart nixed plans to build a 155,000-square-foot supercenter on the site. The announcement came a week after Giant Eagle Corp. purchased a portion of the site where Wal-Mart planned to build.
The $1.3 million acquisition of about 7 acres by Giant Eagle reduced the amount of property on which Wal-Mart could conceivably build to about 16 acres, according to McCandless officials.
Giant Eagle officials said the company has made no decisions on when or how its portion of the property might be developed but said anything it does is likely to include a cooperation with adjacent parcel owners.
The proposed development does not include the 26.72-acre property along Blazier where the vacant Rave Cinema building is located. In 2015, McCandless tried to buy that land, which is in a flood plain, and turn it into a natural wetlands park.
But town officials said the cost of obtaining the land and tearing down the theater were considered too expensive.
Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368 or [email protected] or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.