By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Originally posted on Oct. 19, 2023, on triblive.com
Two industrial development corporations announced Wednesday that they have finalized their acquisition of the New Kensington Advanced Manufacturing Park.
The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. and the Regional Industrial Development Corp. acquired the park from New Kensington’s redevelopment authority by assuming $10.7 million in park-related debt held by the redevelopment authority.
The park originally was built as Alcoa’s New Kensington works, which was closed in 1971. It then became the Schreiber Industrial Park. New Kensington’s redevelopment authority bought it in 2018.
The 1.1 million-square-foot industrial complex is home to seven companies that occupy almost 500,000 square feet.
In May, Re:Build Manufacturing announced it would occupy 175,000 square feet. Renovation of the space is underway: Re:Build expects to start its first production in March and have 100 jobs by the end of next year, with a goal of 300 over three years.
Westmoreland County IDC Secretary Ted Kopas credits local officials for preserving the park when its future was uncertain.
“Without the Redevelopment Authority of New Kensington taking ownership, I’m not sure that we’d be in a position to modernize this facility. We certainly wouldn’t have attracted Re:Build,” Kopas said.
“Once old industrial facilities are shuttered, they can quickly fall into blight, which often leads to just one suitable economic-development option: demolition,” he said. “New Kensington’s city and redevelopment officials should be applauded for having the foresight to keep this facility a going concern. They made this possible.”
The complex will be key to attracting quality businesses and skilled manufacturing jobs back to the area, said Sean Kertes, chairman of the Westmoreland County IDC.
“Now that the joint venture has ownership of the property, we’re excited to work with RIDC on transforming this facility into a center of advanced manufacturing,” he said.
RIDC President Donald F. Smith Jr. said that over the past several months they have been assessing the condition of the entire property and developing a plan for improving existing buildings and marketing the location.
“Revitalization will take time, but we are committed to moving forward and making progress,” he said.
The two industrial development corporations have worked together before, turning a former Sony television plant in East Huntingdon into the 2.8 million-square-foot Westmoreland Innovation Center.
“Every project has its own challenges, and this large-scale manufacturing complex is no different,” said Jason Rigone, executive director of Westmoreland County IDC. “Although these are different projects, we expect similar success with the New Kensington Advanced Manufacturing Park.”