With the selective building demolition phase completed earlier this year, the next phase of work at the former Allentown Metal Works in South Allentown will shift its focus to the first of three buildings to be rehabilitated at the site.

A recently announced $500,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program will be used for the installation of wall and ceiling insulation, and roof, door, and window replacement in a 52,000 square foot building at the site.

Allentown Economic Development Corporation has made that particular building a priority due to its potential to house a heavy steel fabricator or similar manufacturer, support a 25-ton overhead crane, and employ up to 75 skilled laborers. The goal is to get it to a code-compliant shell that’s ready for tenant fit-out with a tentative timeframe of early 2019.

Together the three remaining buildings on the site total more than 200,000 square feet on 17 acres, with renovations planned to take place in phases. The entire site’s rehabilitation is estimated at $22 million, including infrastructure improvements such as new utility laterals for the entire complex. With mid-size manufacturing sites being difficult to find in the Lehigh Valley region, sites the size of Metal Works are in demand for growing manufacturing companies.

“The RACP grant will help to kick off the next phase of work to get this first building ready to house a manufacturer,” said Scott Unger, AEDC Executive Director. “After several phases of work in which we removed materials and entire buildings from the site, it will be a welcome change to start renovation work as this will be the most noticeable to prospective manufacturers looking at the site.”

Allentown Metal Works was last used as a manufacturing facility in 2011 before closing, falling into disrepair, and eventually being purchased by AEDC in 2013. It is located in a PA Keystone Opportunity Zone, which offers state tax abatements for up to 10 years. It was also added to the federal government’s Opportunity Zones program, which was recently created to encourage business development and investment in distressed communities.

The Allentown Metal Works project has previously received more than $3 million in funding, including a $2 million loan through the state’s Business In Our Sites Loan Program, and federal environmental cleanup money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As a result of those cleanup efforts, 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.