Back

LVEDC Hosts ‘From Brownfields to Business’ Redevelopment Event

By Colin McEvoy on June 28, 2016

About 75 people attended the "From Brownfields to Business" event at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown.

About 75 people attended the “From Brownfields to Business” event at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown.

Built in 1926 to assemble truck chassis and paint truck bodies, the Mack Trucks Plant 4 in Allentown closed in 1984 and remained shuttered and neglected for five years, until it was redeveloped into the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, a business incubation program.

That successful urban reuse story made Bridgeworks the perfect place for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) to host “From Brownfields to Business” on June 17, which focused specifically on redevelopment in the Lehigh Valley.

“There have been a lot of exciting redevelopment stories in the Lehigh Valley over the last few years, resulting in a lot of new jobs for the region, and this event drew attention to just a couple of them,” said Andrew Kleiner, LVEDC Director of Redevelopment and External Affairs.

About 75 people attended the event, which featured information about available financial assistance for the redevelopment of abandoned and underutilized commercial and industrial properties, also known as brownfields.

LVEDC Director of Redevelopment and External Affairs Andrew Kleiner (left) speaking with panelists (from left to right) Andrew Twiggar, Mike Grather, Jeff Brown, and Kassie Hilgert.

LVEDC Director of Redevelopment and External Affairs Andrew Kleiner (left) speaking with panelists (from left to right) Andrew Twiggar, Mike Grather, Jeff Brown, and Kassie Hilgert.

The evening was organized by LVEDC’s redevelopment program, the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI), which has been in operation since 1998. LVLRI experienced one of its busiest and most successful years in 2015 and is experiencing similar project and prospect volume this year, currently managing eight active redevelopment projects in various stages.

“I truly believe LVLRI is one of the strongest redevelopment programs out there, and we’ve begun to be recognized nationwide as a best practices model for environmental revitalization and urban reuse,” Kleiner said.

The highlight of the event was a robust panel discussion that included Jeff Brown, principal with Charles Street Capital; Kassie Hilgert, CEO of ArtsQuest; Mike Grather, CEO and founder of Lightlab International Allentown; and Andrew Twiggar of the Allentown Waterfront project.

Charles Street Capital redeveloped the long-vacant former Schoen’s Furniture Store building at 612 Hamilton Street in Allentown. With new life as a loft-style office building with a mix of modern and historical architecture, it is now the home of Trifecta Technologies, Shane Patrick Associates, an Offix Systems showroom, and the Bell Hall gourmet burger restaurant.

Brown said the rich history of the building helped inspired him to redevelop an urban brownfield rather than build a new office building on a greenfield in a suburban area. It was made possible by the wide range of public financing support, he said, including the Allentown NIZ, DCED loans, and Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants.

“It was a real community effort,” Brown said. “It’s not easy, but going the greenfield route isn’t as satisfying as doing a retrofit here has been.”

Andrew Twiggar is the owner and co-founder of Dunn Twiggar Company, LLC, which is partnering with Jaindl Properties on the Allentown Waterfront project on former Lehigh Structural Steel Co. land in Allentown.

Now projected to cost $400 million at full build-out, the development will include six new office buildings, three residential complexes, three parking structures, a vibrant main street, and a signature half-mile River Walk.

LVLRI has been has been assisting the Waterfront project with environmental assessment and site clean-up planning since 2007. Twiggar discussed EPA assistance programs Dunn Twiggar used for the Waterfront project, including federal funds it obtained through LVLRI to pay for half its Phase 1 and 2 environmental assessments.

The “From Brownfields to Business” included food from the Lehigh Valley food truck Licensed 2 Grill, and all attendees received a free drink from the HiJinx Brewing Company, one of the Bridgeworks client companies. The Bridgeworks Enterprise Center is operated by the Allentown Economic Development Corporation.

The event was sponsored by the Allentown Economic Development Corporation, EarthRes, HDR, Michael Baker International, and Moonstone Environmental.

New LVEDC Video Spotlights Lehigh Valley’s Food and Beverage Sector

Many factors led to food and beverage processing being named one of the Lehigh Valley’s four target sectors, including the region’s strong workforce, well-developed transporta[...]

Continue to Next Page

Lehigh ValleyQuick Facts

  • Industry Spotlight

    13.8% of Labor Force
    Employed in Professional & Business Services
    Q4 2016

  • By the Numbers
    $39.1 Billion

    Gross Domestic Product
    2016

  • Investor Spotlight
    City Center Lehigh Valley
  • Industry Spotlight

    9.8% of Labor Force
    Employed in Manufacturing
    Q4 2016

  • By the Numbers
    $3.44 Billion

    Exports
    2015

  • Investor Spotlight
    Air Products
  • Industry Spotlight

    1,504 Total Office Buildings
    Q2 2017

  • By the Numbers
    $57,510

    Median Household Income

  • Investor Spotlight
    PPL Electric Utilities
  • Industry Spotlight

    1,770 Total Industrial Buildings
    Q2 2017

  • By the Numbers
    24,400

    New Jobs Created Over Past 5 Years

  • Investor Spotlight
    National Penn
  • Industry Spotlight

    5.0% Industrial
    Vacancy Rate
    Q2 2017

  • By the Numbers
    658,477

    Population

  • Investor Spotlight
    Olympus
  • Industry Spotlight

    7.7% Office
    Vacancy Rate
    Q2 2017

  • By the Numbers
    342,493

    Labor Force

  • Investor Spotlight
    Lutron Electronics
  • Industry Spotlight

    17.2% of Labor Force
    Employed in Health Care & Social Assistance

  • By the Numbers
    5,073

    Technology Patents from 2000-2015

  • Investor Spotlight
    Mack Trucks
  • Industry Spotlight

    9.1% Increase in exports
    Among top 20 markets nationally in export growth

  • By the Numbers
    25.8 Million

    Total Office Inventory (Square Feet)
    Q2 2017

  • Investor Spotlight
    UGI
  • Industry Spotlight

    10.1% Industrial rent growth
    Second highest in the U.S.

  • By the Numbers
    115.5 Million

    Total Industrial Inventory (Square Feet)
    Q2 2017

  • Investor Spotlight
    NFI