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.
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, and in 2022 received an additional $500,000 for the same work along the Route 8 corridor between Oil City and Franklin. As the ORA’s testing and assessment of these Brownfield sites continues, leadership will pursue additional grants for cleanup and redevelopment efforts.
ORA President and CEO John R. Phillips, II serves as the Redevelopment Manager and acts as the ORA’s liaison with the EPA and the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). He is supported by Debbie Sobina, Executive Vice-President.
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
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.
The ORA’s brownfield work includes proactive identification and acquisition of problematic properties in an effort to remove contaminants and to address blight.
Recent Brownfield Purchases
The most recent Brownfields sites purchased by the ORA are the former Kraft Concrete Products, Inc. and the former Gil E. Dahlstrom Iron & Metal, both located in Oil City, for which assessment activities and a redevelopment strategy are currently 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.