Reclaiming and Redeveloping Local Brownfields
Brownfields are former industrial and/or commercial sites that are known to be or may potentially be environmentally hazardous.
Reclaiming and redeveloping local Brownfield assets is critical to the revitalization of the Oil Heritage Region. As a certified Economic Development Agency and a nonprofit corporation, the ORA is in a unique position to assist with the reclamation of Brownfield sites due to redevelopment grants, exemptions, and expert technical assistance not available to other redevelopers or individuals.
For instance, in 2020 the ORA received a $300,000 Community-Wide Assessment Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to assess and redevelop several Brownfields along the Allegheny River. The ORA’s testing and assessment of these Brownfield sites began in October 2020 and will continue through 2023 with grant writing for cleanup and redevelopment efforts ongoing throughout.
The Fuchs Lubricants property in Emlenton is the Brownfield site owned the longest by the ORA and one of several locations prioritized for assessment.
“Brownfield redevelopment is just one component of the ORA’s multifaceted mission, but as stewards of the ORNHA, it is an incredible opportunity to improve both the ecology and the economy of our communities”
John R. Phillips, II
Selina Pedi became the full-time Redevelopment Manager in August 2020. While formulating the ORA’s new Brownfield redevelopment program, Pedi will serve as the ORA’s liaison with the EPA and the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with support from ORA President and CEO John R. Phillips, II.
Brownfield reclamation not only eliminates eyesores and stabilizes any environmental threat, it also makes properties available for new uses, whether they be safe green spaces, recreational assets, or even commercial properties once again able to join a community’s tax rolls and contribute to the local economy by hosting a new or expanded business.
“Brownfield redevelopment is just one component of the ORA’s multifaceted mission, but as stewards of the ORNHA, it is an incredible opportunity to improve both the ecology and the economy of our communities,” said Phillips.
Pedi echoes those sentiments with excitement about the chance to “honor the spirit of innovation that gave birth to the Oil Heritage Region and carry it forward into a new era, learning from the mistakes of the past and building our communities ever stronger and more prosperous.”
Recent Brownfield Purchases
The most recent Brownfields site purchased by the ORA is the former Kraft Concrete Products, Inc. property in Oil City, for which plans for assessing environmental concerns and a redevelopment strategy will soon be underway. The Fuchs Lubricants property in Emlenton is the Brownfield site owned the longest by the ORA and one of several locations prioritized for assessment.
These renderings, developed by consulting firm Michael Baker International, show the potential for development at the Fuchs site in Emlenton, along the Allegheny River.