Sewickley retailers impacted by condo construction

Friday, October 25, 2019 | 6:01 AM

Retailers on Sewickley’s Blackburn Road and Centennial Avenue say they have been impacted by construction of a luxury condominium.

The first of two condos at 400-420 Centennial Avenue has been under construction since this summer. PJ Dick, a Pittsburgh-based contracting company, is constructing the development for Zamagias Properties.

Chuck Batchelor, who owns The Frame Depot at 415 Centennial Ave., said he has dealt with nearby construction before as a business owner and that the work has been pretty typical, for a construction site.

Batchelor has remained open since construction started, but said the consistent truck traffic in the area has likely chased some customers away.

“People assume that because access getting in and out is … limited, that I might not be here, but I have been,” said Batchelor.

When construction first started, Batchelor said workers’ vehicles would occupy most of the parking spaces on his street for about two blocks. But he added that the situation has improved after more workers started parking at the Heritage Valley Sewickley hospital garage.

Del Miller, a Sewickley Parking Authority board member, said in an email that the authority has instructed about 50 construction workers to park there. The parking authority has an agreement under which the hospital leases spaces to parkers at $70 per month.

Parking spaces in front of Robinson’s Home & Garden, located at 527 Blackburn Road, have been blocked off by a fence. Rich Robinson, who works at the family-owned store, said the contractor has been nice to work with, although the condominium project is “a little ambitious,” given the space limitations.

He told the Sewickley Herald that customers planning a visit can use Little Way to access a parking lot behind the building.

“It’s just an off-street area next to the storage building where people can pull in their cars,” Robinson said.

Although he expects at least three of the six spaces in front of the store to open soon, Robinson plans to use signs to direct customers to the back.

He also said that the lack of convenient parking has impacted business to an extent, but customers are still shopping at the store.

“We’ve got a loyal customer base in town, (and) for the most part, people have still come out,” he said.

To solve at least some of the parking issues posed by construction, Miller said that going forward, the borough should require construction workers to park in the hospital garage.

“I suggested to borough council to use the same tactic for all construction work (involving) more than five workers,” he said.

Miller also called for input from merchants and residents to help solve the issue. A parking garage requirement, along with the pending three-hour time limit for parking in Zone 1, could help create availability in the future.

“January 1, the new three-hour limit should take care of longer parking but, in my opinion, any construction parking needs to be dealt with,” Miller said.