By Elizabeth Perry
Frank Cupelli, owner of the former Miles Bryan School building, addressed the McKees Rocks Council Oct. 11 about perceived lags on the board’s part in issuing zoning permits for his redevelopment project there.
Cupelli, who also owns Moon Millenium Properties along with Miles Bryan Development, has owned the school for four years and said prior to purchasing it he met with “18 dignitaries” from the McKees Rocks area, including the former mayor, Jack Muhr, prior to buying the property.
“I did not want any obstacles in regard to the building, nor did I want any favor. What I wanted was to work in concert with McKees Rocks to move forward with this project,” Cupelli said.
Cupelli met with planning in 2020, and gained approval for his plan, then was told at a zoning board meeting that the paperwork associated with his request had not been received. Cupelli said Councilman Nick Radoycis, who was then on the zoning board, told him the next step would be to go before council.
“Then of course COVID hit so a few years went by. That’s why we’re here today,” Cupelli said.
Cupelli said he wants to put in a distillery, artisan lofts, farming area within the property and possibly a candy store in the old building.
“I consider myself an absolute friend of McKees Rocks,” Cupelli said and reiterated that no one else wanted to buy the property but him. “You tried to give the property away for 30 years.”
The school closed in 1997. Cupelli said $1 million has already been invested in the project.
Radoycis said he’d have to look back at the record. He said the school was zoned residential. Cupelli disputed that because a large portion of the property is on Chartiers Avenue.
“Mr. Cupelli, with all respect to Mr. Radoycis, we didn’t know what happened in the past,” Council President Archie Brinza said.
The discussion concluded with Cupelli conferring with Borough Attorney Michele Gannon.
In March of this year, Cupelli was accused of attacking a 14-year-old girl after he caught her and her friends on the school property.
She and her friends said he shouted racially charged comments.
The charges against Cupelli were dismissed on Oct. 4.