A pool and spa sales operation will be the first tenant to take the plunge with Amtran's Trolleyworks development.
Crystal Clear Pools and Spas will lease the former battery warehouse - the segment of the three-pronged Amtran rental project on the former Roaring River Mills property that has received the least attention.
There are still no tenants in the former trolley barn on the property, more than a year after Amtran finished renovating it. Nor have there been takers on the two-plus acres of vacant ground that once included the orange Roaring River Mills building, although Amtran is close to finishing a deal with a Devorris-Lawruk family partnership to market the tract.
The battery warehouse was saved by order of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, but the authority didn't include it in the rehabilitation of the trolley barn, which is only a few feet away.
Still, it attracted the notice of Crystal Clear owner Scott Mitchell who liked the location, Amtran General Manager Eric Wolf said.
"It's highly visible from Sixth Avenue, near a well-known landmark [Mansion Park]," Mitchell said.
His current digs are in Mill Run, "very far off the beaten path," beyond the entrance to Mill Run Reservoir, he said.
Not only is it unlikely a potential customer would accidentally encounter his store, it's even hard to give directions, Mitchell said.
At Trolleyworks, he will have chemicals, toys and spas on a sales floor and displays to encourage customer interest in his primary business: installation of inground pools.
Mitchell said he will have the option of moving to a new location on the property if the development of the vacant ground compromises the battery warehouse's visibility.
Amtran will pay the $58,000 cost of facade improvement - reworking the front door, cutting window openings, installing windows and repointing the bricks on the front and the side closest to the courtyard on the trolley barn side.
The warehouse currently has no windows.
Crystal Clear will pay for all the interior work needed - work that would have cost between $300,000 and $400,000 if Amtran contracted to do it at prevailing wages, as required, Wolf said.
Because the company is using private funds and won't need to pay prevailing wages, it can do the work less expensively, Wolf said.
Amtran will charge low rent, especially in the beginning, in exchange for the "sweat equity," Wolf said.
"He [Mitchell] is fronting [almost] all the money," Wolf said.
The rent will eventually build up to $4.89 per square foot after five years, with Crystal Clear responsible from the beginning for taxes, insurance and utilities.
The lease begins May 1, although Crystal Clear probably won't finish its preparations until later that month, Wolf said.
The presence of a tenant on the property may stir interest among other potential tenants, authority member Dick Moran said.
Inquiries among potential trolley barn renters have picked up since January, although they almost disappeared for the three months before that, Wolf said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.