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Benedum Foundation of Pittsburgh offers money to redevelop industrial sites

Thursday, April 3, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A $372,000 grant from a Downtown foundation will pay to buy and prepare 14 former industrial sites in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia for development, establishing as many as 300 jobs.

“This is an effort to take those nonproductive sites to a productive state,” Mary Hunt, a program officer for the Benedum Foundation, said on Wednesday.

The Site Ready Program is expected to attract $20 million in investment at the first 10 sites, said Carrie Staton, an official with Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University, which received the three-year grant. The program is designed to capitalize on opportunities presented by the development of the Marcellus shale along the Ohio River and the potential redevelopment of environmentally hazardous land in decaying river towns.

Staton said the jobs include those developed from getting the property ready for development and the redevelopment once the businesses are running.

Half of the 14 sites are in West Virginia, and half are in Western Pennsylvania. Of the latter, five are in Beaver County, and two are in Allegheny County. The only two confirmed sites are the former Brooke Glass factory, on the Ohio River in Wellsburg, W.Va., and the former Gen Pak factory in Wellsburg, which closed in 2001.

Emily Buka, executive director of the Riverside Center for Innovation on the North Shore, a partner in the effort, said other possible sites include the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad in McKees Rocks and one in Coraopolis. In Beaver County, she said, a potential target is in Rochester, near the confluence of the Ohio and Beaver rivers. A developer could put housing there, she said.

The Riverside Center's role is in assessing whether the soil or groundwater was polluted because of its former use. If there is a problem, the center will recommend a solution.

The grant will pay to make sure there are no property title problems and gather the input of residents on how the land should be used.

Petra Mitchell, president and CEO of Catalyst Connection, an Oakland economic development group, welcomed the effort.

“In general, manufacturing is an industry that's growing and expanding, and looking for good industrial space, and these types of regions, Mc-Kees Rocks and Coraopolis, would be very desirable for a company that's expanding,” Mitchell said.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or



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