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Architects win award for industrial park design

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 5:02 p.m.

When the Redevelopment Authority of Westmoreland County purchased the General Glass Industries' property in Jeannette in 1995, the brownfield site was a virtual dump.

Phase I of the renovation of the 33-acre property included demolition of obsolete buildings, including three glass furnaces and the boiler house. In six years time, the park has been transformed, and the designers responsible for the magical conversion of dump to park are the recipients of a prestigious award.

The architects of Phase I of the Jeannette Industrial Park, Design 3 Architecture, were granted the People's Choice award for their design on the former glass factory.

Officials with the American Institute of Architects in Pittsburgh and Columbia Gas of Pa., along with city of Jeannette officials and county Commissioner, Tom Balya, were on hand for the presentation of the award this week.

'The facility is a first-class design,' said Balya. 'The competition for the People's Choice award was between 98 other sites.'

During the week of Oct. 16, more than 3,000 visitors to the Carnegie Museum of Art were given the opportunity to see the entries and vote on their favorite project in the AIA Pittsburgh Design Awards exhibit. The Jeannette site was the overwhelming favorite of voters.

'We are honored that our project was voted the People's Choice Award winner, especially when you consider the quality of the competition and that the Jeannette Industrial Park was a former brownfield site,' said Bill Snyder of Design 3 Architecture. 'Our design and approach to the project had to be dramatic to overcome the conceptual, as well as the physical, stigmatism associated with a discarded brownfield complex and to provide a design that would excite prospective tenants to move into the park.'

Currently, the park has two tenants, Maroadi Transfer and Storage, a warehouse distribution company and Tech 2000 Woodworks, a manufacturer of millwork products. A third tenant, H.E.T. Construction Inc. has signed an option agreement with the county and will construct a corporate office complex and work facilities on the premises. Construction is set to begin in the spring.

The Jeannette Industrial Park project has been divided into two phases. Phase I was completed in Oct. 1998 and included extensive demolition work and the renovation of 125,000-square-feet of building space. The site has been landscaped and a new access road constructed during the first phase.

The park is a designated Keystone Opportunity Zone, a state initiative that waives state and local taxes, such as real estate tax, net profits and gross receipts, for a period of 12 years for companies moving into the facility.

The park's developer is the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. WCIDC president Larry Larese announced the release of $2 million in funding through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Budget Fund for Phase II of the project, set to begin this spring. Included in Phase II is new roofing, windows, doors, loading docks, air rotation units and interior utilities and renovations to deteriorated flooring, the extension of utilities and roadways to the Phase II area and the construction of sidewalks and landscaping.

'We will be renovating 85,000-square-feet during Phase II,' said Larese. 'We've had a number of people interested in renting small spaces in Phase I of the building, and we will continue to work with the city of Jeannette to make this happen.'

The architectural firm, Design 3 Architects, will handle the design of the new sections of the site.

'Phase II consists of the rear section of the main building,' said Snyder. 'The large structure in the middle will be demolished and two loading docks will be constructed. We'll employ metal roofs and utilize the same style of windows and stonework as in Phase I. But Phase II will also look a bit different. It will be more flexible in design.'

To date, approximately $3.5 million has been invested in the redevelopment of the Jeannette site.

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