Slate Belt industrial park still in operation, 4 years after the inauguration of the works.
Four years after a groundbreaking ceremony attended by local and state officials, a proposed Slate Belt industrial park on what was once a massive tire dump features newly constructed roads, streetlights and utilities .
Although no new buildings have sprung up from the old environmental hazard along Route 33, officials from the nonprofit Green Knight Economic Development Corp. are confident that plans for a business campus attracting small to medium sized manufacturers will come to fruition.
Final approvals for a sewer pumping station are expected in a month or two, and construction of the first building could begin next year.
“The plan was always that lots should be released to potential developers or end users after major infrastructure upgrades were completed,” said Chad Helmer, spokesman for the project dubbed Green Knight Industrial Park II.
“That marketing continued while the infrastructure was winding down,” Helmer said.
Green Knight took possession of the site in the spring of 2015 and invested approximately $500,000 in acquisition, site planning and engineering. Nearly $4.7 million in state and local grants or loans were used for roads, utilities, and other improvements.
In return, the 55-acre industrial park near the Route 33 Route 512 interchange is expected to create about 280 jobs, generate about $300,000 a year in tax revenue and leverage more than $10 million in investment. private, according to Green Knight officials. .
“That’s the estimate we used, but I think that number is likely to be much higher now, given how construction costs have changed over the last two years,” Helmer told about private investment.
So far, Helmer said, Bushkill Township developer JVI LLC has reached an agreement with Green Knight to purchase one of eight lots.
“I anticipate the building will go into construction in 2023,” Helmer said, adding that JVI needs to go through land development with Wind Gap officials.
JVI has also submitted plans for a building in Plainfield Township, according to JVI’s Jim Vozar and Township Manager Thomas Petrucci. Most of the industrial park is in Plainfield, with the rest in Wind Gap and Bushkill Township.
Vozar said JVI is progressing with approvals from municipal authorities in Wind Gap and Plainfield, including land use planning and zoning.
Wind Gap director Louise Firestone did not return messages seeking comment.
The park is built on a former slate quarry that in 2000 became a tire burn operation that eventually grew into one of Pennsylvania’s largest tire dumps. Once Green Knight took possession, the old quarry filled with tires had to be covered and soil issues related to the illegal dumping had to be dealt with, according to Helmer, who has managed the project since its inception.
Across the main entrance to the industrial park, Male Road, is a huge warehouse developed by JG Petrucci Co. According to Petrucci of Plainfield Township (not related to JG Petrucci), this site is not has no occupants.
Messages left with a JG Petrucci manager were not returned.
Helmer said the Petrucci warehouse is a separate development and “didn’t really have a noticeable impact” on the Green Knight project. However, minutes from the May 17 Wind Gap Council meeting show the new warehouse raised concerns about the condition of a bridge over Male Road, which traffic would use before entering Routes 512. and 33. The plans then called for securing private and public funds for the bridge. improvements.
Green Knight, which was formed around 25 years ago, helps community and economic development in the school district of the Pen Argyl area in northern Northampton County, which had been ravaged by years of job losses , especially in the slate mining and garment industries. The school district includes Pen Argyl, Plainfield and Wind Gap.
The group’s first economic development project was the 19-acre industrial park along Route 512 in Plainfield Township, where a shell building was constructed. Techo-Bloc, manufacturer of landscape products, bought the site and has been operating there since 2004.
Green Knight derives much of its revenue from the operation of a methane energy recovery plant at the Grand Central Sanitary Landfill in the Township of Plainfield.
The Slate Belt is becoming an engine of economic development in Lehigh Valley. Another project in Upper Mount Bethel Township, the vast River Pointe Business Parkwould include 12 buildings totaling 5.8 million square feet on approximately 800 acres approximately 1 ½ miles from Interstate 80.
River Pointe has caused concern among township residents and others in the valley, including the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. But in 2018, as he joined other dignitaries for the grand opening of the Green Knight Industrial Park, County Executive Lamont McClure said the slate belt was becoming “critical for economic development.”
The reason? He said most new development will emerge in this area as most of Highway 22 has been built.
Contact Morning Call reporter Anthony Salamone at [email protected].