Ex-coke plant site seeks developers
By Sam Spatter
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012,
Owners of the former LTV Steel coke plant site in Hazelwood want local commercial real estate agents to help attract developers to the property.
Almono Group LP is moving ahead with a new master plan to build offices, retail, light industrial and residential sites. The 178-acre site has been treated with 800,000 cubic yards of fill, leveling the property and lifting it out of the flood plain, which will help developers avoid problems in construction.
"The site is pretty clear of environmental problems, and we invite the local commercial realtors to look at the current availability of sites," Don Smith Jr. said on Thursday at a meeting of the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties at the Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown.
"Check our website -- Almono.org -- and if you have any suggestions about our new master plan for the property, or if you have a potential developer interested, let us know," said Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corp. of Southwestern Pennsylvania, managing partner for the property owners.
The owners are the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation and McCune Foundation.
Under the new plan, 1,300 housing units are proposed, and the site is divided into four development zones: residential, industrial, mixed-use that includes offices, and a central green area for energy-related development. The property, the last major piece of vacant land available for development in the city, is near the universities and medical facilities in Oakland, Downtown, Squirrel Hill and the South Side.
The preliminary cost per acre is between $150,000 to $200,000, Smith said. An existing pump house, located in the industrial sector, is the first area available for immediate development.
"This is not going to be a cheap project, and RIDC will not be the developer, but may do some if necessary," Smith said.
Before opening the entire property to development, RIDC plans to install utilities and a road network. Estimated initial costs are $20 million to $25 million to prepare the property. About $15 million in funding has been obtained from public sources, including the state and the city of Pittsburgh. Total cost of the infrastructure work is estimated at $60 million.
The four foundations are enthusiastic about the plan and are ready and have the ability to provide additional funding for the first phase if needed, Smith said.
Some of the goals for Almono include connecting the communities of Hazelwood, Greenfield and South Side to the site and creating a riverfront of 1.5 miles along the Monongahela River, including development of the Blair River Road, which would front along the river, said Ken Doyno of Rothschild Doyno Collaborative. The architect helped develop the new master plan.
"A traffic plan for the site could be ready within three or four weeks," Smith said.
Ground could be broken before the end of the year, Smith said, and he expects the rezoning of the property along with obtaining permits for construction to be completed within a year.
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