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Former McKees Rocks railroad site to get second chance

| Monday, June 20, 2011

A 52-acre former railroad site in McKees Rocks will be redeveloped by a private company for new industrial and commercial uses and could create more than 400 jobs.

Officials from local, state and federal government along with the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance were expected today to announce the project to redevelop the former Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad property during a news conference in McKees Rocks.

Trinity Commercial Development LLC of Pittsburgh has purchased the site and will rehabilitate some buildings and construct others, according to the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the marketing arm of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the region's main development group.

Officials with Trinity could not be reached for comment.

Trinity is expected to rehab nearly 76,000 square feet of space for heavy industrial use, according to the alliance. The company also plans to build more than 385,000 square feet of space that could be used for offices, warehouses or manufacturing.

Trinity's investment in the redevelopment and a timeline for the project were not disclosed.

P&LE Railroad began industrializing the area in 1888 with maintenance and repair operations for the railroad. The site also housed operations for three steel mills, according to a 2007 study by Carnegie Mellon University's Western Pennsylvania Brownfields Center. P&LE went bankrupt in 1996. The site, along the Ohio River at the McKees Rocks Bridge, is contaminated with petroleum products, pesticides, lead and mercury, according to the brownfields center study.

State and federal environmental agencies have provided funding for some environmental work on the site, the alliance said. And Trinity is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to continue cleanup work.

Trinity is predicting the project could create 320 construction jobs and 414 permanent jobs once the project is complete and filled with new businesses, according to the alliance.

Kevin Evanto, spokesman for Allegheny County, said the project is great news for the borough of McKees Rocks and nearby Stowe Township.

"This is an incredibly significant development for them," Evanto said. "You can't overstate the impact this is going to have on that community."

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