Mon River site still waiting for first tenant
When Mon River Industrial Group purchased the former Allenport steel plant in early 2012, the investors had aspirations of attracting new companies to the brownfield site.
But two years later, the group is still looking to attract its first tenant.
That's why the group is hopeful that a $3 million Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program grant recently announced by the state will help take that goal over the top.
Mon River Partners completed purchase of the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel plant on Feb. 24, 2012.
The group paid $6 million in cash. Including improvements to the site, the partners have invested more than $8 million to date, said Michelle Herron, chief executive officer for Mon River Industrial Group.
That work has included general building cleanup, improvements to the security station, and rail track and roadway repairs. “In spite of substantial cost to acquire the property and improve it, we have no building tenants to date,” said Herron.
Herron said the buildings are in “definite need of repair.” She said prospective tenants who look at the site then look at the buildings and determine they would be paying for the deteriorating buildings.
The group must still complete some additional steps – including providing matching funds – to secure the loan. Herron said the group is hopeful that the substantial investment already made in the plant will qualify for that match.
The grant would fund building and infrastructure improvements, including the loading docks, rail, roadway and lighting improvements.
The group's initial grant application was for $6.2 million.
Because prospective tenants are looking to design the buildings to their specific needs, Herron said she is unsure what it will cost to upgrade all of the buildings.
“We absolutely anticipated that we would have building tenants in place, and the broker as well as Mon River has shown buildings to an abundant number of prospective tenants,” Herron said.
Asked if there is optimism that the first tenant or tenants will move in during 2014, Herron said, “Everyone hopes that at the beginning of the year.”
“We certainly put a lot of money, time and energy into the project in hopes of returning jobs to the Mon Valley,” Herron said.
Herron said the potential for job creation at the site “depends on tenant mix.
“But we certainly hope to create thousands of job opportunities,” Herron said.
Herron said hopefully the $3 million grant will get the group closer to attracting the first tenant because it will fund improvements to the buildings.
“We remain excited about the project and after our two years of time, energy and investment, we hope to see new tenants soon,” Herron said.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.