WEIRTON - The closing of a land sale that will lead to the construction of a new Bob Evans Restaurant near the Super Wal-Mart off Three Springs Drive is hoped to be concluding soon, with construction also expected to start at the other end of the Wal-Mart lot on the first phase of a strip shopping center.
Lou Anile and Nick Palavas of Weirton talked Wednesday afternoon about the land and development they hope to see along the outparcels at the Wal-Mart site.
The Bob Evans is to be built on a 1.78-acre site adjacent to the Weirton veterans memorial in front of the Wal-Mart, at the corner of Three Springs and Park drives.
In addition to an entry from Park Drive, the lot will have an entrance from the Wal-Mart parking lot.
That entry already is marked and built.
Anile and Palavas said they're hoping closing on the sale will take place later in April or early May.
A plan for the site was approved by the Weirton Planning Commission late in 2010 on a request from Bob Evans.
The restaurant is expected to have as many as 80 employees and seat 153.
"We're hoping Bob Evans will be part of more development," said Palavas, who noted he and Anile own two more acres adjacent to the Fairfield Inn and DeeJay's.
In addition, the two men sold an outparcel for a small strip shopping center at the other end of the Wal-Mart lot to a Belmont County firm.
That parcel totals 2.3 acres and construction materials are on site. Anile and Palavas own an additional five acres along Park Drive adjacent to the planned strip mall, which can be developed in phases, Anile said.
The new strip center also has entryways to its lot cut into the Wal-Mart main lot, with the front of the center to be facing in toward the Wal-Mart Super Center.
Anile recalled at the Bob Evans site, "This was the first piece we bought here. At the time, none of this was being thought about. There was nothing."
That was about six years ago, when the former Weirton Steel General Office grounds were put up at auction.
Palavas said, "It's nice to have the opportunity, and it's critical to other owners in the area to develop, too, which I'm sure they're going to do."
The Lauttamus Investments group has made a land swap with the West Virginia Economic Development Authority for off the curve on Park Drive, allowing the EDA to obtain property adjacent to the rue21 warehouse to allow for it to roughly double in size this year. The Lauttamus group was able to add to property it already owned as part of the exchange, and has submitted plans for a mixed use, planned development, to the city.
Palavas said there were a number of property exchanges and sales made to bring the Wal-Mart site to completion, to fit the store into the land on the site without disturbing an old soil contamination area that dates back to before the general offices of the steelmaker were built there in the early 1960s.
The store recently marked a year in business at the site. Palavas said without the Wal-Mart, interest in the remaining parcels for commercial development wouldn't be happening.
Anile said Bob Evans personnel complimented the city, especially City Manager Gary DuFour, Mayor Mark Harris and Chief Code Official Rod Rosnick, for their efforts to do what needed to be done to make the development happen.
He noted former mayor Bill Miller had a role in keeping the Wal-Mart project alive, too.
(Giannamore, who is business editor of the Herald-Star, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)