New life abounds on West River Drive

August 18, 2009
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Spearia’s remodel in the Comstock Park area is not the only one.

“I think it’s a great thing that we’re getting some new business partners to come into the community and some young ones with forward thinking, because it’s been kind of a sleepy, quiet area,” said Michael Bass, chairman of the Comstock Park DDA.

“A lot of the stuff that the DDA has been doing over the past few years to make Comstock Park a little more pedestrian-friendly … has been causing some attraction for people to come and look at opportunities.”

The DDA has been improving its portion of the White Pine Trail and the streetscape of West River Drive, which runs through Comstock Park. The first phase of the streetscape project includes West River Drive from 4 Mile Road to Lamoreaux Drive and has been completed; phase two will cover Lamoreaux Drive to Pine Island Drive.

Another business that has invested in the area is the Gilmore Group, which purchased the Nick Fink bar, 3965 West River Drive NE. The Gilmore Group purchased the building in October 2008 and was drawn to the area for a multitude of reasons.

“I think initially it was the character and the history of Nick Fink’s. It has a tremendous amount of character,” said Greg Gilmore, CEO of the Gilmore Group. “It started with that, and I live in Cannonsburg, so I drive West River Drive all the time. I’ve seen that corridor, how it’s been developed and maintained. … There’s a little bit of resurgence. The Whitecaps bring a tremendous amount of traffic through there, and it’s a great little neighborhood with a lot of history. That’s all a part of what we do.”

The remodel of the bar will include a new parking lot, a new kitchen, updated electrical and plumbing, and a new façade, which is already complete.

Even with all the new updates, Gilmore said he plans to emphasize the character of the old bar.

“The bar has old fixtures, like buttons on the walls where you can call your server and antique lights, old wooden floors. The building leans and it creaks, and it has all the old woodwork and old bar. It just has a really storied history, so that’s what we’re really going to be focusing on as we develop the product,” he said. “It will definitely have a historic bent.”

The building was originally a hotel and has 19 rooms on the second floor. Gilmore said his company hasn’t done too much with the second floor yet, but he plans to redevelop that, as well.

“We’re slowly upgrading the entire facility. It’s been quite some time that it hasn’t had any attention,” said Gilmore. “It’s baby steps basically, but it’s come a long way from what it was.”

Though Nick Fink’s is being remodeled, it remains open. Gilmore plans to have the main floor complete within a couple of months and will tackle the 19 rooms upstairs next year.

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