Cranberry Township experienced development boom last year
The Derrick, 1/4/02 By JUDITH O. ETZEL

 

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OFFICIALS ARE OPTIMISTIC THERE WILL BE MUCH MORE ACTIVITY THIS YEAR BECAUSE UPMC NORTHWEST WILL BE FILING FOR A PERMIT TO BUILD ITS NEW HOSPITAL.

Commercial development was booming last year in Cranberry Township, and 2002 promises to see new construction figures increase tenfold.

The reason for the optimism?

"This year will be the biggest ever with the construction of a new hospital here. I expect UPMC Northwest will file for a building permit, probably around $50 million, by the end of February or early March," said Frank Pankratz, secretary-treasurer for the township.

UPMC Northwest, formally merged in December, is building a 110-bed hospital on a 144-acre tract just off Route 257 in Cranberry Township. The actual building cost is pegged at about $50 million while the entire project, including equipment and furnishings, will top $65 million. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the major project will be held this spring.

But even without the UPMC Northwest building plan, the township is in the money as far as new construction. A total of 188 building permits were issued last year, up from the 156 given out in 2000. Typically, the number of permits is in the 160 to 170 range.

The permits last year accounted for an estimated $5,196,990 in new construction costs. That figure is lower than the $6.6 million in new building last year, but the drop involves just one building project.

"We had Wal-Mart built in 2000 so it accounted for a big part of that new construction. But we had some big ones this year, too," Pankratz said.

Commercial

A quick look at the major commercial projects completed last year in Cranberry Township shows:

Staples store on Route 322 - $540,000

Four communication towers - $575,000

Hard's Welding & Fabricating on Airport Road - $300,000

McDonald's Restaurant on Route 322 - $220,000

Kruptizer Car Wash addition on Route 257 - $80,000

Extensive renovations were also done to a number of businesses in the township and accounted for nearly $150,000 last year. The single largest project was a $70,000 remodeling effort at Dandy's Frontier complex to house the new Red River Roadhouse on Route 322.

At least two major renovation projects - the former Quaker State Innovation Center that was bought by UMPC Northwest and secondly, Pappan's, which plans to expand its restaurant at the Cranberry Mall - are on tap this year.

Residential

There were 24 new homes built last year in Cranberry Township. Prices for the new homes ranged from a low of $40,000 to $177,000. The average estimated cost was about $82,000, Pankratz said.

The two dozen new houses in 2001 were about the same as 2000. Last year was the fourth consecutive year that 20 or more new residences have been constructed in the township.

Permit income

In addition to swelling the property tax base, the building spree in Cranberry Township also drops a dollop of money into the township coffers. A building permit carries with it a $15 fee for the first $10,000 in estimated construction costs and 75 cents for each subsequent $1,000 in building costs.

Last year, the township reaped nearly $14,000 in permit fees. That will balloon to more than $50,000 this year with the UPMC Northwest hospital complex.

"We benefit every time something is built. I see our consumer-oriented businesses improving and thriving because of the construction going on. That activity pours more money into our commercial establishments like restaurants and stores," Pankratz said.