A dilapidated McKeesport property is getting new life thanks to a Squirrel Hill developer.
Barry L. Stein purchased the Midtown Plaza site in September at sheriff’s sale. The developer was able to purchase the property, on which the former owners owed more than $300,000 in taxes, for approximately $90,000, Charles Starett, director of the McKeesport Redevelopment Authority said.
“He’s taking an essentially vacant property and placed it back on the tax rolls,” Starett said. “He had a vision for revitalization.”
As part of the development, the parking garage on the second floor of the building located in downtown McKeesport and the deck over Fifth Avenue is being demolished.
“We wanted to eliminate that tunnel effect, eliminate the dark spots,” Stein said.
Stein said he plans to renovate the abandoned first floor retail space — approximately 20,000 square feet along Fifth Avenue and another 40,000 square feet between Fifth and Sixth avenues — into an assortment of retail and restaurant space.
The developer said he also has found a financial institution — which he declined to name — that is interested in moving into a vacant bank with drive-up window already on site.
Stein, who said he also is looking at a piece of property in Duquesne, said he was particularly interested in the McKeesport location because it is across from EchoStar, a company that employees approximately 1,200 people.
“There is nowhere for (those employees) to eat,” he said.
Starett and the redevelopment authority piqued Stein’s interest in the project and brought him together with the city, which owned the parking garage portion of the structure, Stein said.
Starett said an apartment complex, which is in another section of the downtown building, is owned by a company in Arizona.
Construction on the development of the retail space, which will cost approximately $2 million, is expected to start within the next month.
“We’re going to spend an amount of money and the tenants are going to spend an amount of money,” he explained.
Stein said once the retail portion is developed he may consider turning the former parking garage portion of the building into office space.