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Editorials

New Kensington has big plans for Schreiber Industrial Park

| Saturday, May 5, 2018, 4:14 p.m.
Schreiber Industrial Park along the Allegheny River in Arnold and New Kensington photographed in September, 2017. It was the site of Alcoa's New Kensington Works, from 1891-1971. Now the City of New Kensington is buying it with the intent of making substantial upgrades.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Schreiber Industrial Park along the Allegheny River in Arnold and New Kensington photographed in September, 2017. It was the site of Alcoa's New Kensington Works, from 1891-1971. Now the City of New Kensington is buying it with the intent of making substantial upgrades.

Schreiber Industrial Park has sat on a bank of the Allegheny River as an employer to some, an eyesore to most, for 50 years.

But now its longtime owner is in the midst of selling the sprawling, 66-acre property that stretches from Ninth Street in New Kensington to 16th Street in neighboring Arnold. The buyer is the City of New Kensington.

The city wants to make it a center for advanced manufacturing. Right now, it's home to about a dozen businesses but is losing its longtime “anchor,” Siemens, which is moving to RIDC Westmoreland in East Huntingdon.

State development officials say the purchase of Schreiber will bring in about 400 jobs to start. It's sinking $12 million into the sale and development plans to make that happen.

It would be an incredible turnaround for a complex that gave rise to the Aluminum Company of America — today's Alcoa — and that at this and other nearby locations once employed 7,000 people. To put that in perspective, New Ken's population today is about 12,500.

It will need a lot of work to accomplish. Schreiber Industrial Park is nothing close to what one thinks of as a modern industrial park.

Alcoa closed the New Kensington Works in 1970, and David Schreiber's family bought it the next year. He's 84 now and finally willing to sell at a price, as yet undisclosed, that the city can handle.

The city will receive a $4 million grant and $8 million loan through the state Department of Community and Economic Development to buy and make what will have to be substantial improvements to the aging compound.

New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo noted the city's longtime efforts to buy the facility and said the state money made it possible.

The purchase comes just as the city is working to improve its infrastructure and develop a so-called “smart city” through other state grant programs.

Lloyd Snell, co-owner of car wash soap manufacturer Annford, has seen the tract's aging in the 20 years he's been there, but now there's hope.

Snell said other companies would be smart to join his.

“It was built for Alcoa,” he said. “It's built as an industrial park, so it has all the amenities, it has the location — it's perfect. ”

Stephen Negrich's Mineral Processing Specialties makes metal alloys in the park.

He summed it up well: “To hear the stories of what New Ken used to be and what it is — it's sad to see where it's at right now. For them to at least try to put some effort to clean it up, make it back to where it's safe to walk through town at night, it's good to hear.”

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