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June 14, 2012

Millennium site readied for multi-tenant building

NEW CASTLE — Recent earthmoving at Millennium Park in Neshannock Township is in preparation for a multi-tenant building.

But specifications now seem to be focused on one potential tenant who would like to occupy at least part of the building.

The site has been graded and piles of dirt can be seen from Pulaski Road.

Linda Nitch, Lawrence County Economic Development executive director, explained 138,000 cubic yards of earth were removed to make the ground as flat as possible. The next step is to install a sewer line to Keystone Drive for Steelite, the existing building, and extend that line to accommodate a multi-tenant building.

Steelite is using holding tanks to contain its wastewater, Nitch said, and the sewer is to be installed by month’s end.

Nitch said the work will use the last of a $3.75 million loan and a $3.75 million grant received seven years ago from Business in Our Sites, a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development program. The agency has spent $6,575,000 of that on professional services, permitting, site work and earthmoving, sanitary sewer construction and work on King’s Chapel Road, Nitch said.

About $900,000 left will be used for the grading and infrastructure.

According to Nitch, the multi-tenant building is to be north of the 15.37-acre property that includes Steelite and other land developer Angelo Medure acquired in 2006, she said.

Steelite, a manufacturer and international supplier of dishware, flatware and metalware for restaurants and hotels, opened four years ago and occupies about five acres.

About 10 acres are still open on the site, which is designated as a Foreign Trade Zone to market to companies wanting to take advantage of duty-free payments.

The federal government created the Foreign Trade Zone program in the 1930s to facilitate international trade and increase global competitiveness of U.S.-based companies. In those zones, companies can import certain types of merchandise without formal customs entry or paying import duty.

The land is in a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone and is tax-free until 2020.

The development corporation’s board initially decided to build the multi-tenant building, recognizing businesses are growing and may need more space, Nitch explained.

“It makes sense to have a building ready to go.”

It will be paid for with a $1.8 million Pennsylvania Redevelopment Capital Assistance grant, Nitch said, noting the contract with the state for that money expires Nov. 30.

The building is to have 45,000 square feet of light industrial space and 5,000 feet of office space that tenants could customize to their needs, Nitch said.

“We could attract one to three businesses.”

According to Ron Rizzo, owner of RAR Engineering, his firm initially had sent out minimum specifications for a bare building with no concrete slab, but those bids are being rejected after a potential user has shown an interest.

“Because we have a potential user, we’re redesigning it to incorporate” his needs, including three docks, a bathroom and a floor, he said.

Now his firm is soliciting new construction bids from the same four local contractors who had bid.

They are Lee Michael Industries, Giordano Construction Co., G.P. (Gary Pezzuolo) Construction and Shiderly Construction.

Neither Nitch nor Lawrence County Commissioner Bob Del Signore, who sits on the development corporation board, would identify the interested company, which has asked to keep its name confidential until plans are more definite.

“They don’t want the name released at this point,” Del Signore said.

Rizzo said he anticipates the contract to be awarded and construction to start this summer, pending approval of the corporation’s board.

“We are planning to retain ownership,” Nitch said, “and lease it out as a growth opportunity to local businesses and as a tool to attract new businesses.”

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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