For many longtime local residents, what's going on at the former Bethlehem Steet site in Lackawanna may seem unusual. Erie County is looking for a developer to build manufacturing space on the property.
The county's alphabet agencies own a significant portion of the 1,000-acre steel plant site and millions of dollars have gone into environmental cleanup, clearing land along Route 5 for development, moving rail lines around, adding a bike trail and selling some land for TMP Technologies' new plant.
The plant is near one of the most visible parts of the reworking of the property. That is the extension of Dona Street into the interior, along with sewer and water lines, near the Welded Tube plant.
John Cappellino, executive vice president of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency and Buffalo and Erie County Industrial Land Development Corporation, said the site has been cleaned up.
"DEC, EPA and others have gone through our portion of the property. The full site is 1,000 acres. So I can speak to the 150 acres that we have that's been through the brownfield cleanup program. So any known soil remediation requirements have been completed," he said.
Cappellino said the agency is looking for a developer who can take 10 acres of the site and turn it into a light manufacturing warehouse. That would take advantage of the highway, railroad and lake freighter access to the site.
"What made it a good site for Bethlehem Steel, a lot of that is still relevant today," he said. "Location, the port access, the access on the Route 5 Corridor where you have good transportation access, power, all those things that made it a good site for the steel plant are things that, going forward, we think are advantageous to a company that would locate there today."
Cappellino said his agencies would like to see construction start late this year or early next year.
"What we're engaged in right now is, basically, trying to sell the land to a developer who'd be willing to come in and purchase it and put a building up on spec, or if they have the time to get somebody kind of in there," he said, "but we're looking to get a deal done with somebody sometime first, second quarter, third quarter."