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South Neighborhoods
Brentwood Whitehall Center tenants to move into new complex

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

By Al Lowe, Tri-State Sports & News Service

The Whitehall Center, a Brentwood fixture since October 1940, will be demolished early next month.

And seven center tenants will move to two newly constructed retail/professional buildings that are part of the $30 million Towne Square complex scheduled to replace the center and the now demolished Brentwood-Whitehall Shopping Center. Other tenants will move in later in 2003.

Razing the Whitehall Center should take 45 days, developer Bill Krahe of Echo Real Estate said.

Tenants of the two new buildings will include: Rotelli Pizza Pasta Perfect, Quizno's Classic Subs, Vision Gallery, a state liquor store, Definitely You, Sally Beauty Supply, Radio Shack, Orthodonics Association, Oasis, H & R Block, Parkvale Savings, L.A. Nails, E.R.B. Physical Therapy, Association of Ophthalmology, a Little Nippers Pizzeria and Hair Etc.

The new Giant Eagle anchor superstore will be similar to the one in The Waterfront, with a pharmacy, cafe, Farmers Market and Eagle Nest Center for children to play in, Krahe said. He hopes to have it built by November. A new Dollar Bank also will be built.

A new Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers opened on the site two weeks ago.

Delays in the project were caused by arrangements for tax increment financing and the collapse of protracted negotiations with the post office that caused postal operations to move temporarily from Brentwood.

"Still, I never had any doubts [about the project]," said Krahe, whose involvement began in 1996.

Local officials said they were delighted.

"Last Saturday my wife and I ate at Wendy's. It was perfect," council President Fred Swanson said. "So far Bill Krahe has lived up to everything he said he was going to do. So many people are asking me when everything is going to open. Everyone around here is really excited. The shopping center has come a long way."

Mayor Ken Lockhart said the project will be the cornerstone of local development efforts, including the plan to revitalize Route 51. He said he was particularly happy because "that corner was so blighted for so many years."

"In 1989 I was out of town on business when my wife Lesa told me on the phone Horne's and Murphy's were closing," former Councilman and county Commissioner Bob Cranmer said. He immediately wondered what would happen to his property values.

He visited a council meeting to express his concern and found there was no plan in place.

In 1991 he ran for council saying he wanted to bring a grocery store to Brentwood.

After his election Cranmer found his campaign promise was easier said than done when grocery chains he contacted disparaged the condition of the current shopping center and the topography of the land where it sat.

He and planning commission member Dennis Troy were instrumental in creating an economic development corporation that was OK'd by council, thanks to the lobbying of council members Sonya Vernau and Nancy Patton. The corporation later became the nonprofit Economic Development South.

Once a developer was interested in the project, Cranmer, later a county commissioner, had county planning offices devote time to making the dream a reality.

"Bill Krahe has been the epitome of determination and doggedness since the very beginning," Cranmer said. "If I have done anything for this borough, it was keeping my campaign promise and attracting a grocery to the community. Every time I drive by, it gives me goose bumps."

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