Gary P. Hickson
HERMITAGE, Pa. – The city of Hermitage, Pa., experienced a year of growth in 2023 and is poised for further expansion in 2024, with several community and economic development projects pending.
The completed merger of Wheatland into Hermitage added nearly 600 residents and 32 businesses, while enlarging the city to over 30 square miles and cementing its status as the fourth largest, by area, in Pennsylvania.
In 2023, nearly 150 building permits were issued with total construction values of over $66 million. This was highlighted by the new 250,000-square-foot, $34 million FedEx distribution center that’s adding hundreds of jobs to the local economy.
Additionally, construction began on a 10,000-square-foot headquarters for Mercer County Community Federal Credit Union, a $3.5 million project. Other projects to be completed in 2024 are a 2,500-square-foot expansion of the Buhl Park Golf Center, building renovations for a new MP Coney Island and a restaurant and chili sauce canning plant.
A new DQ Grill and Chill was completed in 2023, a $860,000 project. Retrofits included One Hot Cookie, which opened its first Pennsylvania store, and Jersey Mike’s, which is coming to Hermitage Towne Plaza.
The slate for 2024 includes a 212,000-square-foot addition to the Joy Cone cookie plant, a $40 million project. Joy, the world’s largest ice cream cone manufacturer, has diversified into cookie and wafer production and expects to reach 1,000 workers over the next few years. Construction will also start for a new Starbucks, a $2.3 million project, and for McAlister’s Deli and Valvoline Instant Oil Change, each a $1.4 million project.
With litigation finally resolved, the redevelopment of the 54-acre Shenango Valley Mall property into a mixed-use Town Center is expected to start in 2024. Butterfli Holdings acquired the property. Flicore, its affiliated developer, will raze the mall and redevelop the site to comprise retail, restaurant and entertainment establishments.
The city will deploy $5.5 million in grant funds to build out the Town Center. It will feature pedestrian connectivity, outdoor gathering space and recreational amenities. The project also envisions residential development. The site is the busiest intersection between suburban Erie and suburban Pittsburgh.
An emphasis on quality-of-life investments also marked 2023 and will carry over into 2024.
A record $2 million was invested in neighborhood infrastructure projects with additional projects identified for 2024. Over $1.4 million in grants will bring sewer extensions to another 92 residents and afford residential growth along the South Neshannock Road corridor.
New master site plans were adopted for the 42-acre Stull Nature Reserve, a passive park/environmental learning space, and for the Hermitage Athletics Complex.
The HAC envisions additional ballfields and flat fields, new pickleball courts, a bicycle pump track and
youth climbing area. At the close of 2023, a new Dek hockey rink was constructed at the HAC, supported by a $231,000 state grant. A separate state award of $350,000 will help fund construction of new trails into the complex.