The owner of a vacant brownfield site with an industrial history dating to the late 1890s now has enough funding to begin renovating the first of three buildings into active manufacturing use.
Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the award of new funding to renovate the Allentown Commercial and Industrial Development Authority’s Allentown Metal Works.
Renovation of the manufacturing site at 606 S. 10th St. in Allentown could provide up to 75 new manufacturing jobs to the city upon full occupancy.
Allentown Economic Development Corp. earned approval for a $500,000 state grant through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for the costs associated with roof replacement, wall and ceiling insulation and replacement of windows and doors at the 52,000-square-foot facility.
Three buildings remain at the site after completion of selective demolition over the winter, said Scott Unger, executive director of AEDC. Now, work can begin on the first building.
“Our hope is to get improvements done that would get a code-compliant shell,” Unger said. “It’s got very high ceilings. I’m definitely comfortable there’s demand for 52,000 square feet.”
Throughout Lehigh and Northampton counties, smaller manufacturing spaces are in short supply.
The renovated building, which would be capable of supporting 25-ton overhead cranes, could be ready for tenant fit-out by a heavy steel fabricator or similar manufacturing use by early 2019, Unger said.
“These are very significant sites. It’s very common for projects like these to be multiple phases,” Unger said. “So far, all the time has been spent on remediation and selective demolition.”
The infrastructure to support the site is already there, and the first phase of this project will involve ancillary work to prepare the site for the future users of the other buildings, as well, Unger said.
The entire cost for renovating the entire Allentown Metal Works site, covering nearly 20 acres, is about $22 million, he said.
AEDC has received several forms of funding, public and private, for redeveloping the site over the years.
“Now that the demolition is done, it’s a lot easier to see how the site could be used,” Unger said.