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FARRELL 2 businessmen offer plans for big commercial project



Published: Tue, February 26, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Advocates believe they can attract private investment to help rebuild the community.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

FARRELL, Pa. -- A city restaurateur and a Masury business adviser unveiled preliminary plans for a major commercial project they say could cost between $250 million and $500 million.

Ricky Johnson Sr., owner of Chef's Kitchen at 314 Idaho St., and Todd Perkins, owner of Phitown, a business services company in Masury, said they want to put the building on the site of Farrell Plaza at the corner of Idaho Street and Spearman Avenue.

It would be a circular eight-story tower built in phases and focusing on commercial development, Johnson told council at its Monday night session.

He plans to come to the March 25 council meeting with more details.

Local group: The project is an outgrowth of the Valley Economic Empowerment Center, a group of local business people and entrepreneurs who want to see Idaho Street revitalized, he said.

Johnson said the project isn't looking for government money but plans to rely on private financing. No specific development timetable has been established, he said, noting that no architect has looked at the project yet and the total cost projection is only a guess at this point.

"I believe it's doable," Johnson said, predicting the idea will catch on.

Perkins indicated that the group will be making pitches to big-name athletes and others who have money to invest in rebuilding a community.

"It's quite astounding," said Mayor William Morocco. "I have to be for it, and I think council will support it."

Johnson said he will ask the city for guidance in buying the plaza land for the project. It is owned by Emil Koledin of Wesex Inc., West Middlesex.

To be inside: The building would have about 80,000 square feet and house the Chef's Kitchen restaurant on the first floor, entertainment facilities such as a theater and/or game rooms on the second, convention and meeting space on the third, retail space on the fourth, office space on the fifth and sixth, Phitown on the seventh and RJM Inc., Johnson's nondenominational ministry, on the top floor.

Johnson said the Valley Economic Empowerment Center has a more immediate need for city assistance in helping it secure a small parcel of land at the intersection of Idaho Street and Broadway Avenue for the erection of a large "Welcome to Idaho Street" sign.

The sign would be about the size of a billboard and bear the names of Idaho Street businesses and clubs. It would be supported at both ends by masonry work and the site would have a small fountain as well as park benches and a green area, he said.

gwin@vindy.com




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