Entrepreneur revives South Hills golf center, plans more projects |

Entrepreneur revives South Hills golf center, plans more projects

James Knox | Tribune-Review
Brian Shanahan shows off the under construction Cool Springs Sports Complex Monday June 30, 2014, which is to open this weekend. After quitting as CEO of CardConnect and letting his brother move the rest of the business to the eastern side of the state, the South Hills native is turning to consulting and real estate development around Pittsburgh. He bought Cool Springs Golf Center in Bethel Park and plans to reopen the driving range soon, is renovating an office building in Mt. Lebanon with hopes of attracting a major ground-floor restaurant and has plans to expand Cool Springs with a massive indoor sports center.

Brian Shanahan built a credit card processing company. Now, he’s rebuilding an icon of his South Hills youth, and turning his time and money to other Pittsburgh-area projects.

Shanahan said his company, CardConnect, grew to the point that it needed a full-time CEO in its King of Prussia headquarters, but he wanted to live in Pittsburgh without commuting across the state.

He turned over the position to his brother, Jeff, became a “non-executive chairman of the board,” and took most of CardConnect’s staff from the Canonsburg branch office to form Penn Cove Group Capital, a holding company for his consulting business and real estate holdings.

Penn Cove’s first major project is the $19 million rehabilitation and expansion of Cool Springs Golf Center in Bethel Park. The center will have a “soft opening” on July 14, and a grand opening celebration on July 26.

“When I was younger, my mom used to drop my brothers and I off here,” said Shanahan, who grew up in Upper St. Clair. “In the last 10 years, it really went downhill. I kept looking at it and thinking, ‘What a disaster.’ ”

Shanahan bought the facility, which had been damaged by a September fire and was deteriorating as its debts mounted, for $1.66 million in a sheriff’s sale in October.

Since then, he said, it’s been his plan to reinvest some of his earnings from CardConnect into the South Hills.

Shanahan has rebuilt almost everything at Cool Springs: Contractors demolished all but the foundation of the old clubhouse to build a new one from the ground up, rebuilt the seven-acre mini-golf course with fresh turf greens and landscaping, and replaced the artificial turf driving range.

Plans include a 170,000-square-foot indoor sports complex rivaling the UPMC-sponsored facility in the South Side where the Steelers practice, Shanahan said.

And he said he is partnering with the Penguins to add a dek hockey rink near the proposed indoor complex.

David Soltesz, president of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, said his organization would provide technical support for installing the dek hockey rink, would put Penguins branding on the rink when it’s completed and would promote it through its youth hockey programs website.

He said few new playing surfaces are being built by private businesses.

“If it deals with hockey development, the organization tries to support it,” Soltesz said. “This is the first new dek by an independent entity in quite some time.”

Also, Allegheny Health Network will run a sports medicine and sports performance program from the complex, including 14 exam rooms and an orthopedic surgeon on-site, Shanahan said.

“What we’re trying to turn it into is a real sports destination. … It gives me great pride and joy,” Shanahan said. Spokeswoman Jennifer Davis confirmed the health network would have a presence at Cool Springs.

James Chichra, golf director at Robert Morris University’s Island Sports Center in Neville, was the golf pro at Cool Springs from 1986 to 1995 and said he hopes the center’s reopening will help spark more interest in golf in the region.

“Cool Springs had always been one of the top ranges in the city, if not the country, so to get it back into play again helps golf businesses all around,” Chichra said. “They’re still ‘the competition,’ but I think it’ll be better for golf as a whole.”

In addition to Cool Springs, Shanahan’s Penn Cove company is rehabilitating an office building in Mt. Lebanon as its new headquarters, with plans to convert the basement into garage parking for tenants and replace the brick and concrete facade with a glass curtain wall.

Penn Cove will occupy the third and fourth floors of 607 Washington Road. Doctors’ offices will rent the second floor, and several restaurants are bidding to take the ground-floor space, he said.

In Bridgeville, the company bought the Harmuth Building on Washington Avenue in 2012. A retaining wall behind the building was rebuilt, and six apartments on the second floor will be renovated this summer, Shanahan said.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or [email protected].

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