hotel progresses… slowly

If  it seems like  the SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel  to be built Uptown is progressing slowly, you are not imagining things.  For several months, Kratsa Development’s plans to build the  extended stay hotel on Washington Road have been stalled. The problem?   Kratsa and general contractor Harchuk have been struggling to find a way to get a critical piece of  equipment to the site—a huge crane that will  lift big, heavy  sections of precast concrete atop the now-visible steel frame, adding six more stories to what eventually will be a seven-story, 108-room hotel with an 88-car parking garage.

The developer originally had planned to bring the crane onto its property from the rear; however, excavation revealed  poor soil conditions, including two underground tanks and a coal seam, which thwarted that plan.  The next best alternative—bringing the crane onto the site from Washington Road—required PennDOT approval, various structural recalculations and the building of a platform for the crane, thus the delay.

“None of the delay was because of the municipality,” says Municipal Planner Keith McGill. “It was because the contractor and the developer were trying to work through difficult logistical issues related to the crane.”

The problem should be resolved soon. Within the next two weeks,  a 160-foot-high crane will be delivered in pieces on 20 trucks and will be assembled at the site on a platform built the week of July 23. Smaller cranes currently working at the site.   Once the large crane is installed, the project will resume at a brisker pace. Consistent with the “no pain, no gain” philosophy, however, residents and others  will endure some inconvenience, as the hotel literally takes shape.

One northbound lane of Washington Road between Academy Avenue and Shady Drive East is closed  to vehicular traffic and pedestrians for at least 10 weeks until the crane is removed.  (Both northbound lanes will be closed for a short time while the crane is built and disassembled.) Jersey barriers, signage and other safety features have replaced the fence that formerly surrounded  the site.

Work hours typically will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.. The contractor is required to  take “reasonable” actions to limit noise to the surrounding neighborhood;  to provide property owners with a letter describing the nature of the work and when it will be conducted; and to include a 24-hour contact number where a project manager can be reached with questions or concerns. The contractor also will be required to operate according to PennDOT permit requirements, to keep the Mt. Lebanon police and fire departments apprised of  the work schedule and activity, and to work with the police department on proper traffic control and management in the work area.

As those who have lived in Mt. Lebanon for a while know, any sort of development in our nearly 100-percent built-out community can be problematic.  There are no quick, cheap and easy lots to develop, and issues such as Kratsa has dealt with are not uncommon.  “We are pleased to see that the work is continuing and look forward to seeing the completion of the hotel,” says Feller.

It is still way too soon to book a room at the  hotel, but  according to McGill, we can begin looking  forward to  a grand opening in mid-2013.