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Pennsylvania: Makeovers mean more meetings for Monroeville

By Becky Ferrero, Pam George and Vickie Mitchell
Photo courtesy Doubletree Monroeville


Located 12 miles east of Pittsburgh, Monroeville is a picturesque community with small-town charm and big-city accessibility. And, as of September 2009, it is also home to the new $16.2 million Monroeville Convention Center.

The 100,000-square-foot facility resides in space formerly occupied by the Wickes Furniture store.
“The structure is the same, but it’s been redesigned,” said Craig Bollman, director of sales.
The reuse of the former retail warehouse is part of owner Oxford Development Co.’s green initiative. Among the green measures it has taken with the building is using a light-reflecting roof to save on air-conditioning costs.

New features, such as wireless Internet access and a loading dock door large enough for recreational vehicles, modular homes, boats and heavy equipment to pass through, have been added to turn the building into a convention and trade-show center. There are 1,800 free parking spaces.

The new convention center replaces the ExpoMart, also owned by Oxford Development. The ExpoMart has become office space.

Although the new center is smaller than its predecessor, it offers better use of space, Bollman said. “It can do so much more.”

The facility is divided into two areas. The North Hall has 32-foot ceilings and 44,000 square feet of assembly space. The South Hall has 35,000 square feet of carpeted space, and an adjacent room can be divided into four meeting areas totaling 12,000 square feet.

The convention center can handle more than 400 10-foot-by-10-foot booths or 500 8-foot-by-10-foot booths, and the entire facility can accommodate 5,400 visitors.

“Trade shows that have a long history with the ExpoMart were immediately knocking on our door,” Bollman said.

Most clients are regional, coming from areas as far west as Cleveland and as far east as Philadelphia. New York and Washington are also target markets.

The center’s regional allure is understandable considering it is less than 45 minutes from Pittsburgh International Airport, 13 miles from downtown Pittsburgh and two miles from the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Already, Giant Eagle, a grocery store chain, is looking at the center for food-industry-related trade shows and meetings. The Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association, a state trade organization, recently scheduled an event.

Another attraction is Oxford Development Co.’s new Doubletree Monroeville Hotel, adjacent to the convention center. The renovated space was formerly one tower of the 332-room Monroeville Radisson Hotel, which closed in November 2008.

Although the 190-room Doubletree has fewer guest rooms, it has bragging rights to safety upgrades, redone public spaces and a totally updated decor.

Renovated at a cost of around $16 million, the Doubletree features an indoor pool, complimentary Internet access, and the Share-Wine Lounge and Small Plate Bistro, which features American cuisine.

The Doubletree also has 17,000 square feet of event space, including a 5,300-square-foot ballroom.

Visit Monroeville, the convention and visitors bureau of Greater Monroeville, is now located in the convention center.

In February, the CVB welcomed a new executive director, Karrie Burns, formerly general manager of the Courtyard Pittsburgh Monroeville.

“Karrie’s job is to bring business to Monroeville, and the convention center is a catalyst,” Bollman said. “It’s a win-win.”

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