Catasauqua Receives State Funding for Redevelopment of Iron Works Site

By Colin McEvoy on August 23, 2018

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced last week that Norac would establish its first American facility in Forks Township.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a $1.5 million grant for the second phase of the Iron Works redevelopment project in Catasauqua.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf this month announced new funding for the redevelopment of the former Crane Iron Works site located in Catasauqua, a 12.5-acre property that will be developed into a mix of commercial, residential, and public uses.

“This is the type of project that can transform a community by turning an abandoned site into new opportunity,” Wolf said. “The commonwealth’s support will help the borough redevelop the site to help attract businesses and residents, creating new jobs and boosting the local economy.”

The borough of Catasauqua was approved for a $1.5 million grant for the second phase of the Iron Works redevelopment project, which began with the borough’s purchase of the site in 2013. This phase will enable the development of residential and commercial uses.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) – through its redevelopment program, the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI) – has been assisting the redevelopment process of the Iron Works site since 2005.

“The Ironworks site is a redevelopment priority for Lehigh County and any new awarded funding will assist in the process,” said Andrew Kleiner, LVEDC Director of Redevelopment and External Affairs.

“The recent opening of the new municipal building on that site is a testament to what is possible when brownfields are redeveloped,” Kleiner said. “We look forward to the next steps that are to come to see this property through further redevelopment, and this funding will certainly help that happen.”

This funding will be used to prepare the site for mixed-use development through the demolition of old, obsolete industrial buildings and the installation of critical infrastructure including roadways, street lighting, and water/sewer, stormwater, electric, and gas systems.

“I’m proud to have worked with the Catasauqua community and the governor to secure the funding needed for the project at the former Crane Iron Works site,” said state Senator Lisa Boscola.

“Redeveloping brownfield land like this honors the rich history of the Lehigh Valley, but also transforms it for a bright future,” Boscola said. “I’m looking forward to watching this mixed-use project develop.”

LVLRI is focused on promoting economic development in the region through the reuse of abandoned and underutilized commercial and industrial properties (known as brownfields). The Iron Works site has long been considered a redevelopment priority by the borough, Lehigh County, and LVEDC.

LVLRI previously assisted the environmental assessment work at the Iron Works property with $125,000 of Environmental Protection Agency grant money. The initiative also worked with the Catasauqua Main Street program to find other source of funding, provide assistance for further assessment work, and market the property.

The Crane Iron Co., one of many ironmaking firms established in the region during the heart of the Industrial Revolution, operated at the site from 1839 to 1921. It then changed hands several times over the subsequent decades.

The site had been vacant since F.L. Smidth moved out in 2004, adding little value to the borough and discouraging private investment in the surrounding downtown, according to the state.

The borough acquired the site with the goal of restoring the property, bringing jobs and private investment to the community, boosting the local/regional tax base, and improving public services.

The initial phase of the development was completed in 2017 and included the construction of a new $10 million building to house the borough offices, fire department, and police station at the site.

Supported through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) program, funding will support critical expansion projects, some of which will provide opportunities for additional economic development, Wolf said.

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