FARRELL – The corner of Wallis Avenue and Roemer Boulevard holds a special place in the hearts of Farrell residents, Mayor Kim Doss said Wednesday.
“This block of Wallis brings back a lot of great memories,” she said. “Great families like the Bryants, the Otis’, the Savages, the Whitmans, just to name a few in this neighborhood. But we can’t forget about Magnotto’s Grocery Store on this corner and just across the street is Our Lady of Fatima, which is still holding strong.”
And, thanks to an influx of state funding, that intersection could help create memories for a new generation of Farrell residents.
Doss spoke during a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction on a commercial plaza across from the municipal building.
The building will be three units in a building constructed with a grant of about $500,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
Hermitage-based Hudson Construction will be the construction manager and Ryan Construction Services of Brookfield is the general contractor. Hudson representatives said work will be completed by the end of this year.
The project consists of a 3,000 sq. ft. shell with space for one to three tenants.
During her remarks, Doss thanked her predecessor as mayor, Councilwoman Olive McKeithan, for her work to facilitate the grant and get the project moving.
McKeithan said she was excited to see work get started.
“It brings businesses, it brings an outreach where people don’t have to go far to buy a loaf of bread,” she said. “It’s just wonderful. It makes the city look better. It’s a big deal.”
One of the units will hold Royal Designs by S&J, owned by mother and daughter, Rev. Shirley Owens and Javonda Jones, respectively. The store is a salon, with plans to open a beauty school, Jones said.
“We have been waiting for this for about 12 years,” Jones said. “We used to be at 811 Idaho for 15 years, now we’re working as independent contractors at Klassy Kuts.”
Owens and Jones said they were proud to be one of the first businesses approached by city officials to occupy space in the plaza.
Doss said she also is proud of the building and is thrilled for the city.
“This is a great opportunity. This is a long time coming,” Doss said. “This is very important. This is a great start. Hopefully this brings some jobs, local businesses, some new entrepreneurs and tax dollars.”
McKeithan had the first vision for the plaza, and the council quickly joined in to bring the project to fruition, Doss said. City officials received word in January of 2018 of the state grant that will pay for much of the project.
“This was all of our vision, under her tender,” Doss said. “There’s nothing on this side of the city, so this will bring opportunity ... This is a start and we’ll continue to try to get more economic development opportunities. Once we see one, hopefully it’s the domino effect.”
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