With warehouse and distribution development continuing to sprout along the Route 33 corridor of Northampton County, investors are looking further north for untapped potential.
But this time, the focus is on manufacturing.
Rather than build more large warehouses on a planned industrial park in Wind Gap, those involved with the project say the goal is to redevelop a vacant tract to build facilities that would mainly be for manufacturers.
The smaller buildings geared for what would become Green Knight Industrial Park II, call for footprints that would not support the giant warehouses, some of which reach 1 million square feet, found elsewhere in the region.
The 56-acre site in the northern tier of the Greater Lehigh Valley is a former tire shredding business that’s been vacant for years. The members of the Green Knight Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit, want to develop an industrial park, said Peter Albanese, the organization’s treasurer. The group works with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. and other organizations in the Slate Belt on economic development projects and to promote economic growth in the communities of Wind Gap, Plainfield Township and Pen Argyl.
“I think in general, the Slate Belt is starting to position itself as a great area for development and job growth,” said Andrew Kleiner, director of redevelopment and external affairs for LVEDC. “The Slate Belt is really angling itself well and I think there’s going to be jobs up there.”
Kleiner said LVEDC helped the Green Knight organization with environmental assessments for the property.
The site is mainly in Wind Gap and Plainfield Township, with a small portion in Bushkill Township, which would not be developed according to plans.
Albanese said the organization will go before the governing bodies of both Plainfield Township and Wind Gap to gain approvals so construction can potentially begin in less than a year.
While the Green Knight organization owns the property, Albanese said he would like to get the property subdivided into several lots. The organization has been working on the project since 2011.
He would like to bring in manufacturing companies and is looking to develop buildings that would be in the 30,000 to 60,000-square-foot range.
Since the property is zoned industrial, manufacturing would be a good use of the site, said Chad Helmer, senior project manager for Taggart Associates Inc., a consulting firm in Bethlehem.
The Green Knight organization hired Taggart to help with the planning process and manage the project.
“Their goal is to bring jobs back to the Slate Belt, generate tax revenue,” Helmer said. “We’ve been working on the planning for quite some time.”
With its location near Route 33 and the Route 512 interchange, Helmer described the property as having a terrific location that’s well-suited for smaller manufacturing users. The entrance to the site is off Male Road.
Since there are some quarry holes on site, only about 30 of the 56 acres are developable, Helmer said.
The majority of site work could potentially begin later in the fall, Helmer said, with the majority of construction happening next summer.
The organization recently submitted two environmental permits for federal and state approval and is hoping to gain approvals within the next six to nine months, Helmer said.
The project has gotten interest from private developers looking to buy lots, Helmer added.
“We’ve gotten some interest from developers and preliminary interest from end users, though nothing advanced very far,” Helmer said.