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Dollar General project requires certification

Store to be built on old Sheetz lot

The city Planning Commission has approved land development plans for a Dollar General on the site of a former Sheetz store near the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, contingent on certification from the state that the property is environmentally safe.

Sheetz previously removed the tanks that supplied gasoline to its customers at the store on 13th Street and 14th Avenue, but technicians still need to test the soil to obtain the “certificate of clearance,” said senior planner Nic Ardizzone.

If tests show contamination, the site would need monitored for a year, Ardizzone said.

Such a problem could delay the Dollar General project, he said.

Developer PennTex Ventures of Greensburg previously said it would like to open the store early next year.

The 7,500-square-foot building will be about twice as big as the Sheetz building, according to the site plan.

It will sit in the back corner of the lot, like the Sheetz building.

The only access will be on 13th Street, said Brandon Wiltrout, an engineering technician from Gibson-Thomas Engineering of Pittsburgh.

Workers will replace the sidewalks along 13th Street and where they’ll be closing the existing access apron along 14th Street, according to Wiltrout.

Workers will also replace a section of stone retaining wall on 14th Street that had been removed to create the access apron there for Sheetz, Wiltrout said.

They’ll try to match the dark stone of the existing wall, he said.

Stone veneers might work, Ardizzone said.

It’s a wall that was part of the original Wright School property, officials have said.

The “historic” wall gives the site character, said Planning Director Lee Slusser, noting with satisfaction that the developer plans to retain it.

“It’s held up that hillside for that long, it’s probably good for the parking lot,” he said.

Slusser asked whether the 20 planned parking spaces will be enough.

At 7,500 square feet, the store is smaller than most of the chain’s urban stores, so store officials think so, said Ashley Weinman of PennTex.

Eighteen spaces are required by the city’s land development regulations.

A large truck will come to resupply the store once a week, Weinman said.

Commission member Dave Albright questioned whether the single-entry lot would cause tie-ups.

Wiltrout said that with a 36-foot wide aisle, 14 feet wider than the norm, it shouldn’t be a problem.

“Good question, good answer,” Slusser said.

The company is working on a “photo-metric” plan that will keep light from outside fixtures from shining beyond the property lines, Slusser said.

“It’s a great re-use of an old lot,” Slusser said.

Sheetz would have liked to build a bigger store on the property but couldn’t obtain the necessary additional land, Ardizzone said.

It was “one of their leading stores,” he said.

Still, the new location near UPMC Altoona that opened at the end of 2014 is doing well, he said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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