Campus Commons owner looks to expand lot

D.J. Shoffstall, Staff Writer

While the Pitt-Johnstown Campus Commons apartment buildings have not been sold as some have said, they could get some company.

Commons owner Rex McQuaide said he plans to erect buildings on both sides of the apartments when the economy gets better.

“First, I want to build a commercial complex on the right side of the Commons,” he said. “It’s going to look something like a smaller version of Pittsburgh’s Waterfront complex, with stores and office space.”

Junior Kirsten Bell said a commercial complex would be good next to the Commons if it had places to get food, but admitted she wouldn’t be happy about the early morning construction next to her apartment.

There is a landscaping project underway on one side of the apartments, but McQuaide said that has nothing to do with his eventual plans.

“The landscaping is going on at the township’s request because the ground there looks like the surface of the moon, with all the large holes in it, and they wanted me to even it out.”

Richland Township zoning and codes secretary Carol Ieni said it is McQuaide’s duty to maintain the property.

“It’s his property and he was told by us to put up a silt fence along Schoolhouse Road to keep the soil from spilling out onto the street. Flattening the ground out helps keep the soil together.”

McQuaide added that even though improvement is being done now, he will not be planting grass in the dirt because of his plans to build on the lot.

On one side of the Commons, McQuaide said he wants to build more campus apartments, but he said there are some things that have to happen first.

“The last few years the Commons haven’t filled up, and I don’t want to start building more unless I know there is a demand for more housing.”

McQuaide said the one major thing he did to get students to want to live there is change the leasing agreement for their benefit. Instead of paying all of the bills separately like they had to in the past, he made it so it’s all included in the rent payment.

Senior Shannon Deely said it’s easier to pay the bills now, and, for returning students, they still have the option to pay everything separately if they want to.

McQuaide did not dismiss the chance of selling the Commons to someone if they wanted to buy them for the right price, but said no one has come to him about buying them yet.