One Village Square facade
Photo courtesy Beth Genter.

One Village Square, a contemporary office building, has opened at 417 Walnut Street in the main business district of Sewickley. It is the home of a new “prototype” Crazy Mocha coffee shop that will roast all of its own beans on site and focus on hand-crafted beverages and upgraded food offerings.

The 1,493-square-foot Crazy Mocha has benches designed and fabricated by Kelly Custom Furniture and outdoor seating which connects to Sewickley’s Main Street. These upgrades could become the standard for Crazy Mocha and existing stores could see some of these enhancements in the future.

A quirk in the Sewickley zoning code resulted in the construction of this new 8,498-square-foot building in the borough and created an unlikely developer in financial planner Beth Genter.

When Genter needed to expand her financial services company, Schenley Capital, she found out that the Sewickley zoning code requires accountants, consultants and other office-type businesses to locate on the second floor or higher of buildings.

The restriction is meant to spur foot traffic by attracting retail businesses to the first floors of buildings. It appears to have been quite successful with 40 new businesses opening in the last five years. But Genter was frustrated by the lack of high-quality office space available to her that matched the vision she had for her business.

Bright and open office space in One Village Square.

“I wanted to create a financial place that is inviting and friendly,” says Genter. “Not overbearing and heavy looking like other financial firms. People should not feel intimidated and nervous entering.”

Unable to locate what she needed, a friend who had space available in an empty lot suggested she build there.

“At first, I said, you’ve gotta be crazy, that’s just nuts,” says Genter. “Then I thought about it and I called back the next morning and said I am really interested in that idea.”

Genter hired a strong team to support her—Peter Friday as project manager, mossArchitects to complete the design work and TBI Contracting.

Utilizing her financial background, Genter did the leasing herself. Her firm utilizes 1,068 square feet and other tenants are Keller Williams at 3,757 square feet and Corry Capital Advisors at 1,184 square feet.

Asked if she would undertake such a project again, Genter says “I will have to wait and see what the future holds. It was an interesting process but for now, I am sticking with my day job.”

Suzanne Friday provided interior design services and the building is full of contemporary art.

Maya Haptas

Maya Haptas has an M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University and is a freelance writer covering various topics from architecture and urban design to wellness and skateboarding. She...