Brandenberg works through the demolition of a former warehouse building on the Allentown Metal Works site.

The future of Allentown Metal Works on the city’s south side continues to come into focus as work performed at the site over the past year readies it to become a manufacturing hub as soon as next year.

Since June 2017 site owner Allentown Economic Development Corporation has completed selective demotion of 58,000 square feet of buildings that were determined to be functionally obsolete. That leaves three buildings on the site, which total more than 200,000 square feet to be renovated in several phases.

The second round of environmental remediation was also completed to address areas of lead-based paint and asbestos. An environmental covenant was executed and recorded with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which is the culmination of the Act 2 Land Recycling Program.

Welders prepare old boilers for scrap on the former Allentown Metal Works site.

“The Act 2 program is the voluntary clean up program that provides liability protection for entities involved with remediating an impacted site,” explained Scott Unger, Executive Director of AEDC. “The environmental covenant is necessary on projects where engineering or institutional controls are required. The covenant serves to ensure that those controls are maintained and that the maintenance is recorded. It is also recorded in the courthouse so that future owners of the site are aware of the requirements that would be captured in a title search.”

Site development specialists Pennoni of Philadelphia have begun working on a development plan for the reuse of the site as well as renovations for the first of the three buildings, which is scheduled to be bid this summer. We expect to have the first building ready for tenant fit-out in early 2019.

“Creating exceptional paying jobs in urban manufacturing is the core success story for developing brownfields,” said Scott Campbell, Senior Project Manager for EarthRes, which acted as the project engineer. “We applaud AEDC and its stakeholders for their vision and persistence.”

Metal Works history

The redevelopment of the Allentown Metal Works property along the Little Lehigh Creek is a key project for AEDC. The former steel fabrication site had been vacant since 2011 and fallen into disrepair when AEDC purchased it in 2012.

Once the 17-acre industrial brownfield site is fully redeployed, it will be home to one or several manufacturers with the potential to support 75-400 jobs. There are three existing buildings totaling more than 200,000 square feet on the site, several with extra high ceilings, heavy crane capability, and the potential for rail service.

Funding for various components of the site’s rehabilitation has been provided through City of Allentown’s EPA-funded Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania’s Business in Our Sites Program, the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, and the BB&T Economic Growth Fund.

AEDC is currently securing additional funding to support the current and future phases of the project.