Cranberry building boom continues
The Derrick, 3/18/02 By JUDITH O. ETZEL

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FOUR HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS ARE EITHER IN THE PLANNING STAGE OR ARE BEING CONSIDERED.

Two new housing developments are in the planning stages and two others are being considered in Cranberry Township.

The projects are part of a continuing building boom in the township where some $5.2 million in construction projects, ranging from new stores to home repairs, were completed last year.

"In the last three years, we've been on a building spree here. There are more housing developments under way then I can remember in the township," said Frank Pankratz, secretary-treasurer of Cranberry Township. He has been employed by the township since 1988.

In 2001, Cranberry Township issued 188 building permits that accounted for an estimated $5.2 million in new construction. Of those permits, 24 were for new homes with a combined worth of nearly $1.6 million.

"We used to do an average of 16 or 17 permits for new houses a year. It shot up to the mid-20s three years ago and has been that way each year since. I'm hoping to reach that 24 or better level this year and I think we will," Pankratz said.

There are strong signs the township will again reap the benefits of new residential building efforts this year.

A 17-lot upscale housing development called The Woodlands is on tap for a 70-acre tract just off Route 322 near the Cranberry Mall. The acreage, which consists now mainly of tree lots, is located two miles west toward Franklin. The project, which will feature 2 to 3.5 acre lots, is being done by Maho Realty Co., recently organized by local residents Harold Best and Jeff Heeter.

"We're just getting the subdivision plans finalized. We'll have municipal water and we're working on a sewage plan," Best said. "Our goal is to target upscale housing."

Best, a partner in Evans Strickland Best in Cranberry Township, said he and his wife and the Heeters were considering the housing development project before the new hospital was pegged for the township.

"This was in our minds before the hospital even announced they would build a new facility. Obviously, we hope it will eventually drive this development," Best said.

A second subdivision is taking shape off Bredinsburg Road near the intersection with Big Egypt road.

Area residents Ted Hepler and Tim McGrath, who recently formed the Cranberry Area Development Corp., are planning a 12-lot housing development. A 1,100-foot road into the tract is being excavated and a water line installed.

"I understand it is still in the preliminary stages," Pankratz said.

Two other housing developments may also take shape sometime soon.

There is interest in building a road from the back of Cranberry High School to Big Egypt Road. School district officials are eyeing the new road in an effort to ease anticipated congestion at the high school's exit onto Route 257. If the road is built, some residential lots may be laid out along it.

In addition, there are four investors from this area, who are contemplating a housing development off Route 257 just past the top of the Seneca Hill, Pankratz said. That effort is in the very early stages. Those homes are expected to be expensive and on large lots, he said.

"With the hospital coming out here, I think people will want to live closer to where they work and that will further spur this building activity," Pankratz said.

Meanwhile, lots are selling well in the new Emrick Acres neighborhood off Gilmore Road near the old airport. The project, launched about a year ago, offers 44 residential lots of one-half acre each.

To date, six new houses are either completed or under construction, said Toni Kresinski, an officer in the development company, Duawl Corp. All utilities, as well as sewage and water services and a paved road, make the lots popular, Kresinski said.

"We have also sold lots to people who are waiting to build. There's continuing interest in the development and we expect it will pick up even more because of the hospital," she said.