Westmoreland: Big projects, big changes on the horizon
A new hospital is taking shape on Route 30 in Hempfield and emissions from Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station can be seen from Interstate 70 — both visible signs of millions of dollars in recent investments in the county.
Other visions still in the works, from a mini-casino at Westmoreland Mall to redevelopment at the former Jeannette Glass site, stand viable to pump more money into the local economy while adding hundreds of jobs.
Local economic and development officials shared their thoughts on what they consider to be a few of the top projects in development.
A Baltimore-based company is planning a $131 million mini-casino at the now-closed Bon-Ton store at Westmoreland Mall in Hempfield. Company officials said during a December public hearing that there will be about 500 mostly full-time jobs with average annual wages of $43,000.
That would be in addition to the anticipated 700 jobs related to retrofitting and developing the store into space that would house about 750 slot machines and 30 table games in 100,000 square feet.
The construction alone would send a $123 million boost to Westmoreland County, officials have said.
Annually, the county would see a $152 million economic impact.
By the third year of operation, Hempfield and Westmoreland County would each receive $1.8 million annually from gaming taxes. The project is awaiting final approval by the state.
Jason Rigone, director of the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp., said there are additional development opportunities around the mall.
“It is essential that we start planning now to capitalize on the positive impact the mini-casino will have on this area,” he said.
Five industrial employers could call Commerce Crossings at Westmoreland their new home soon.
The industrial park is under construction on 200 acres in Sewickley Township on Waltz Mill Road, close to Interstate 70. Before ground was even broken on the $10 million project, the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. had already received letters of interest from companies hoping to open a location there.
The project is scheduled for completion later in 2019. Rigone said the park’s strategic location off Interstate 70 near the New Stanton interchange makes it a good option for companies to attract workers from the region.
Schreiber Industrial Park
New Kensington’s Redevelopment Authority purchased 70 acres along the Allegheny River last year for $8 million with the intent of adding manufacturers and jobs that disappeared in the 1970s.
Once home to Alcoa’s aluminum business and as many as 7,000 jobs, those opportunities trickled away in the decades after World War II. Now, there’s about a dozen employers in the park.
The site stands to be a “significant asset” to the city and county, Rigone said.
“For far too long, this site was not receiving the necessary level of capital investment to retain tenants, let alone attract new opportunities,” he said.
Public funds are being used there to transform the park into a center for advanced manufacturing, officials have said.
Corridor of Innovation
Elsewhere in New Kensington, would-be businesses are getting the help they need to get on their feet. The Corner has been home to 19 co-working businesses since the entrepreneurial training center opened in late 2017.
Many of those businesses are start-ups and, as they grow and need more space, Rigone hopes they will find new locations along the city’s Corridor of Innovation.
“We are proud of The Corner’s success,” he said.
The facility has training provided through LaunchBox, a part of the Invent Penn State initiative. The Corner has hosted more than 250 people for entrepreneurial small business programs and a drone company there is outgrowing its space.
The Corridor of Innovation spans a few blocks of Fifth Avenue. Government and community partners have been working with Penn State New Kensington to create a model for revitalization in Rust Belt towns.
Three projects have the potential to bring jobs and revitalization to Jeannette — planned redevelopment of the former Monsour Medical Center site, the proposed expansion of Elliott Group and changes coming to Clay Avenue.
The sale of the former hospital on Route 30 from the Westmoreland County Land Bank to developer Colony Holding Co. is expected to be official later this year after a $2 million demolition project completed in 2017. Potential tenants have not been publicly identified.
Elliott Group plans to build a cryogenic pump test stand on property that once housed Jeannette Glass.
The new facility and expanded manufacturing operations at Elliott’s current U.S. headquarters facility in Jeannette will add between 110 and 140 jobs to the company’s workforce in the city.
The facility could become operational by 2020, officials have said.
A few blocks away, some changes to Clay Avenue are in the works.
A microbrewery purchased and is renovating an old building which will be across the street from an amphitheater. City officials have said the moves are spurring interest in other nearby buildings.
AHN Hempfield-Neighborhood Hospital
Steel beams outline the shape of a new hospital, emergency room and cancer center at the intersection of Agnew Road and Route 30 in Hempfield.
Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Health expect the facility to open in the fourth quarter of 2019. A final steel beam for the framework was placed this month.
The hospital will see about 50 employees transferred there and officials expect to hire an additional 50 to 100 workers. It is part of a $700 million regional expansion plan.
The Hempfield center will be inside the same 120,000-square-foot building as the “micro-hospital” emergency department and have 10 to 12 beds for short patient stays and observation. It will have a variety of services including diagnostic imaging, radiation and a pharmacy.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .