Oil Region National Heritage Area | The Valley that Changed the World

Brownfield Redevelopment

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.

Shapiro Administration Awards $750,000 to Remediate Former Industrial Site in Venango County

50 new jobs will be created by the project, which will create public nature trails, outdoor event space, and more

Projects like this one in Emlenton Borough reinforce Governor Shapiro’s commitment to creating healthier communities for Pennsylvanians

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger announced today the approval of $750,000 through the Industrial Sites Reuse Program (ISRP) to the Oil Region Alliance to remediate the former Fuchs industrial property located at 1001 Hill Street and 105 Eighth Street in Emlenton Borough, Venango County.

Oil Region Alliance owns the former Fuchs site, which is comprised of four parcels and a 34,969-square-foot building on 1.53 acres. The underutilized site, which was historically used to manufacture spokes, wool and flannel, most recently was used as a graphite-based lubricants manufacturing facility. The ISRP funds will be used to conduct remedial work at the site, including the remediation of the groundwater, soils, and vapors, as well as the building.

The Oil Region Alliance is also negotiating the purchase of the 50-acre former Quaker State site. Once all remediations are completed, the 53-acre site will allow for eight miles of public nature trails, a boat ramp and outfitter, outdoor event space, and dozens of sustainable energy and innovative agriculture research plots. The site will provide an estimated 50 new jobs in hospitality, outdoor recreation, and arts and culture, as well as job training and entrepreneurship pathways, becoming the heart of a new regional innovation ecosystem.

“Creating healthy and safe communities is a priority of the Shapiro Administration and positioning this industrial property for growth is a tremendous win for businesses and residents alike,” said Secretary Siger. “With this funding, the property will be cleaned up and redeveloped into a viable commercial and recreational space that is expected to add nearly 50 new jobs in Northwest Pennsylvania.”

Governor Shapiro is committed to creating healthier communities for Pennsylvanians. The Governor’s bipartisan, commonsense 2023-24 budget includes more than $1.8 million for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to improve air quality testing, increase dam inspections, safeguard water quality, and more.

“Remediation projects like this not only make underutilized spaces productive, but also preserves our open spaces,” said DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley. “Preserving our land and natural resources is important to a lot of Pennsylvanians. Revamping the former Fuchs industrial property also gives the residents and visitors of Venango County a place to connect with the environment and increased access to recreational opportunities. We are excited to see this project benefit this community, and our environment.”

“We greatly appreciate our partners at DCED and DEP, and appreciate the confidence the Shapiro Administration has in the Oil Region Alliance to remediate and transform the former Fuchs site in downtown Emlenton,” said John Phillips, President and CEO, Oil Region Alliance. “The Industrial Sites Reuse Program is vital to correcting environmental issues, improving communities, and attracting investment and entrepreneurship.”

The ISRP provides loans and grants for environmental assessments and remediation carried out by eligible applicants who did not cause or contribute to the contamination. The program is designed to foster the cleanup of environmental contamination at industrial sites, thereby bringing blighted land into productive reuse.

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“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.

These renderings, developed by consulting firm Michael Baker International, show the potential for development at the Fuchs site in Emlenton, along the Allegheny River.

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.

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