Sewickley’s Zamagias condos move forward after lawsuit

Thursday, August 8, 2019 | 6:00 AM


Despite opposition and a lawsuit, plans for a development in the Village are moving forward.

On Aug. 5, Zamagias Properties announced the groundbreaking for the first of two luxury condominiums at 400-420 Centennial Ave.

Zamagias, a Pittsburgh-based real estate developer, proposed the project more than three years ago. Sewickley Mayor Brian Jeffe said a court challenge accounted for the delay in construction.

Character Matters, a group of Sewickley residents, filed a lawsuit in Common Pleas court challenging the borough’s decision to approve the project. The complaint, which a judge dismissed in December 2017, argued that a meeting held by the borough violated the Sunshine Act, which requires agencies to deliberate and take official action in an open, public meeting.

“Character Matters was very disappointed to see that Zamagias has started the condo construction,” co-chair Peggy Standish said in a statement. “Character Matters did its best to ask the construction company to comply with the zoning height and other Sewickley Borough requirements without success.”

Zamagias Properties President David Martens said the condos will be four stories, including a penthouse. Residents have objected to the height, saying most buildings in town are two stories high.

Jeffe said the developer went through all the proper steps, including multiple meetings with the planning and zoning committees. A building permit was issued in July.

“We were prepared to issue the permit whenever (Zamagias) asked during the last year,” Jeffe said. “It was only recently that they had chosen their contractor and started the job.”

The building will house 12 residences ranging in size from 2,400 to almost 6,000 square feet with outdoor terraces. Zamagias chose P.J. Dick as the general contractor.

Jeffe said construction crews have completed tree-clearing and grubbing work at the site, located between Blackburn Road, Centennial Avenue and Locust Place. Excavation at the site should last about two weeks.

“We’re pleased with who they chose as the general contractor. We’ve had a great experience with P.J. Dick, and I personally know them to be an exceptional contractor,” said Jeffe.

Zamagias has already sold half the units in the first building, and residents should be able to move in by fall 2020. Construction on the second building should begin within a year.

The development will eventually contain 20 to 22 residences, although that is subject to change, said Martens.

According to a press release, architect Jim McMullan of JMAC Architects drew upon the character of the neighborhood to enhance the community.

“A low stone wall that echoes the traditions of Sewickley’s past will surround the property,” the release stated.

Jeffe said the new development is an improvement from the previous land use — a series of 1950s-style professional buildings that primarily housed doctor’s offices and an old construction company. Much of the property sat vacant for some time.

“I remember what was there and I see what is going to go there, and I’m excited about it,” Jeffe said.

Amenities of the condos include underground parking, a fitness room, sauna and lounge. A pet-friendly courtyard with seating, a bocce court and fire pit will be located between the two residences, the release said.

The condominiums present an attractive living arrangement for people who desire walkability, said Jeffe.

“There’s not too many places in Western Pennsylvania where you can live … in a business district setting like Sewickley,” he said. “I fully expect them to sell like hotcakes.”