BEAVER FALLS BUSINESS OWNER ESTABLISHES NEW DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR NEW DOWNTOWN BUILDING
— Two-story structure will house expanded art studio, as well as office and community space
Beaver Falls, Pa., June 7, 2017 — Mycelia Development, LLC, a Beaver Falls-based development company, has announced plans to construct a new building next to Oram’s Donut Shop along 7th Avenue. The new two-story building will house the expanded Stray Cat Studio & Artisan Gift Shop as well as room for other lessees, offices, and event space.
“We’re extremely excited to announce this project,” says Renée Suhr, owner of Stray Cat Studio (507 7th Avenue), who recently created Mycelia Development, LLC, to promote development within the city. “Mycelia takes its name from the root structure of mushrooms, which are always committed to the benefit of their host environment. Beaver Falls has a strong undercurrent of committed community members who have worked for a long time and are continually working toward a suitable environment in which to grow healthy businesses, good housing, and vital community life. It’s time for us to start enjoying the fruits of their hard work.”
Suhr says the conception/planning phase of this project has been in the works for around two or three years now. Construction on the new “green” building is expected to begin in the next year or two. C.G. Clarke, LEED® AP BD+C, will be overseeing the project. “Clarke is an expert in green building design and will be helping us at every step of the process to be more streamlined and focused, and, of course, to make sure we’re using only the most sustainable practices and materials for the building’s structure and interiors.”
Once the building is finished it will house the expanded Stray Cat Studio & Artisan Gift Shop, which has been in business at the lower end of 7th Avenue since July 2013. Suhr says the new studio will be double in size and continue to feature exclusively Pennsylvania-based artists and craftsman. “Our studio is at full capacity right now. With the additional space provided by the new building, we’ll be able to create teaching spaces separate from the working artists so that both can use the studio simultaneously.”
The new building will have room for at least two additional creative businesses upstairs, as well as staff offices, meeting rooms, event space, and a possible art gallery. Suhr says she also plans on having a proposal contest in the near future for a cafe/restaurant that will fit the mission and clientele of the businesses within. The rooftop will also offer event space in garden setting that may also allow the restaurant to grow some of its produce on site.
“We look forward to having Stray Cat Studio as our new neighbor,” says Brian Booth, co-owner of Oram’s Donut Shop. “Construction of this type is always a boon for local development as it is fostering economic growth for our wonderful city. Renée is planning this project with an eye towards the future of Beaver Falls, and that future looks bright.”
Suhr, a native of Buffalo and former resident of Cleveland, moved to Beaver Falls in 2003. Three years later she and her husband, Hank, purchased an 1880s-era house and contracted Townsend Construction & Engineering to renovate the home. A self-proclaimed “loyal localist” and small-business advocate, she says a main focus of her business has always been the support and growth of the city’s artistic and economic initiatives.
“We always try to incorporate other local businesses and organizations into our events and projects,” she says. “It’s our belief that if we work together, we will all be stronger for it.”
As for the new building, Suhr believes it will inspire others to invest in Beaver Falls. “We want to bring hope to the great people of this town and show others that we’re worth building and investing in.” Suhr adds that she hopes this project will boost the enthusiasm and momentum for other projects in town, like the renovation of the Carnegie Library and old News Tribune buildings.
Jack Manning, president and executive director of the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce, says that Beaver Falls has spent a significant amount of time and effort over the last few years preparing for projects like this. He says the core business district along 7th Avenue now presents an opportunity for small business and entrepreneurs to create a vibrant new downtown business community. “Any new infill construction investment bodes well for the local economy and the future of riverfront towns that follow their lead,” says Manning. “This is another confirmation that the revitalization of Beaver Falls is well underway. In order for both the city and county to start growing its population and diversifying our economy, we need more entrepreneurs like Renée.”
Rick Crawford, chair of the Beaver Falls Business District Authority and president of R. Crawford Enterprises Inc., agrees. “As a lifelong resident and property and business owner in the city, the idea of a relatively young business growing and thriving is exciting evidence of what our community has to offer willing entrepreneurs. The news of a new building being built in downtown Beaver Falls to accommodate the growth of that business is an inspiring revelation of the ongoing revitalization.”
Bethany Williams is an Executive Board Member at Beaver County Partnership for Community and Economic Growth and director for the City of Beaver Falls’ Department of Community Development. “Since its opening, Stray Cat Studio has had a deeply positive impact on the City of Beaver Falls. From the caliber of their artisans to Renée’s passionate involvement in planning and advocacy for the city’s business district, the studio serves as the beacon of growth and progress in Beaver Falls. Renee’s heart for the good of Beaver Falls as a whole is contagious. The building of a new artisan hub in the heart of our redeveloping main street not only signals tangible revitalization in our city but serves as an undeniable sign that the future of Beaver Falls is near and will be beautiful.”
“Beaver Falls is a community of committed people all working together to make their town a better place in which to live,” adds Suhr. “It’s amazing to be part of a community so committed to it’s own survival. Through this process, I have really come to feel very connected and close to my fellow residents who care as deeply and work as hard as I do. We’re all working for a beautiful common goal, and it’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”