LVEDC Leads State Officials on Tour of Lehigh Valley Redevelopment Sites
By Colin McEvoy on October 16, 2015
State officials visited the Lehigh Valley this month to tour the region and visit a few of the many redevelopment success stories here in the Lehigh Valley.
Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) visited the sites in Easton and Allentown during an Oct. 8 a tour led by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation‘s (LVEDC) redevelopment program.
“The fact that the DEP took the time to visit us reflects the tremendous success we’ve had with redeveloping brownfields in the Lehigh Valley,” said Andrew Kleiner, LVEDC Director of Redevelopment and External Affairs. “These redevelopment success stories are major catalyst projects that will create a lot of new jobs.”
Randy Roush and John Gross, environmental chemists with the DEP, visited the Allentown Metal Works, Allentown Waterfront, and Easton’s Simon Silk Mill sites as part of the tour organized by LVEDC’s Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative (LVLRI).
All three of these sites are involved in the Act 2 program, which encourages the voluntary cleanup and reuse of contaminated commercial and industrial sites, which ultimately allows them to return to a productive use.
Roush said the DEP visited the Lehigh Valley because it is a model region in Pennsylvania for the redevelopment of brownfields.
“The fact that the PA DEP Land Recycling Program has partnered with LVEDC/LVLRI and other stakeholders is reflective of the fact that there are many excellent successful redevelopment efforts happening here in the Lehigh Valley,” he said.
LVLRI has assisted 76 projects since 1998, resulting in 2,000 acres of land remediated and the creation of 1,900 jobs. The program is facing one of its busiest years in 2015, having worked on about a dozen projects in various stages so far this year, roughly twice the number as some previous years.
Earlier this year, LVEDC was awarded a $500,000 federal grant to assist with environmental assessments and site cleanup plans for Lehigh Valley brownfields. Additionally, Kleiner was invited to speak at the prestigious National Brownfields Conference in Chicago.
During the Oct. 8 tour, Kleiner, Roush, and Gross were joined at Allentown Metal Works by LVLRI chairman Scott Unger and Virginia Haas, Lehigh County’s community revitalization and development manager. They discussed potential strategies for developing the site, as well as the budding reindustrialization of the city.
The Allentown Metal Works site is comprised of seven buildings totaling over 260,000 square feet on 19 acres of land. Located in Allentown’s Enterprise Zone, the city received a $400,000 federal grant last month to assist with cleanup of the site.
Bernadette DeBias, Allentown’s business development manager, and Shannon Calluori, the city’s planning director, joined the tour at the Allentown Waterfront to discuss the ongoing project there.
The Allentown Waterfront is a $300 million mixed-use development on 26 acres of former Lehigh Structural Steel land along the Lehigh River. The project will consist of state-of-the-art office buildings, luxurious residences, and a lively new restaurant and retail district
The tour concluded at the Simon Silk Mill, where they were joined by Tina Wolverton, Easton’s community and economic development coordinator; Mark Hartney, Northampton County’s community and economic development administrator; and Mark Mulligan, the developer in charge of the site.
The city of Easton acquired the 14-acre Simon Silk Milk property in 2006. A conceptual plan envisions such features as a community arts center, artist live-work facility, and a mix of market-rate retail, commercial, office and restaurant facilities. Work began on apartments at the site last month.
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