Pennsylvania to redevelop former Armstrong World Industries site

Paul V. Arnold, Noria Corporation

Pennsylvania governor Edward G. Rendell announced plans to help speed up the redevelopment of 47 acres at the former Armstrong World Industries manufacturing site in Lancaster. The project will create up to 2,000 jobs, preserve another 250 manufacturing positions at the site and provide a new collegiate and community recreation complex in the northwestern corner of the city.

"We're bringing new jobs and investments to our cities, towns and boroughs to enhance the quality of life for residents," Governor Rendell said. "I want to see prime real estate returned to productive use. I want to rebuild these old industrial sites to build up our tax base. This project achieves those goals and ensures we continue our solid record of improving Pennsylvania's economy."

Environmental Protection Agency secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said the redevelopment project has qualified for Brownfield Action Team assistance, which helps to accelerate redevelopment deals and gives investors the incentive they need to clean up contaminated industrial sites. BAT projects typically get permitted in half the usual time.

Project plans call for the demolition of now-vacant industrial buildings on the Armstrong site. They will be replaced by a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood anchored by Lancaster General Hospital planned for up to 1 million square feet of medical office, retail and residential space.

The area also will include an athletic and recreational complex to be developed by Franklin and Marshall College, with the facilities available to the public. The site will complement and link to the recently completed Clipper Magazine Stadium, home to the Lancaster Barnstormers, the city's new minor league baseball team, and other developments in Northwest Lancaster.

"Our Brownfield Action Team will work directly with community leaders who told us this development is a priority for Lancaster," McGinty said. "They now have a single point of contact within DEP for this project. That helps to streamline the permit process so this project can go from the design phase to on-the-ground construction in a timely manner that meets the needs of both the investors and community."

The project enjoys considerable local support. Armstrong World Industries committed $8 million to modernize its remaining manufacturing operation in Lancaster to retain the 250 jobs, and $6 million to the overall redevelopment project. Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster General Hospital each pledged $6 million.

Pennsylvania officials also are working with developers and investors to examine various state grant and loan programs that could help spur additional development.

Governor Rendell has worked aggressively to provide new incentives and financing and put in place enhanced management approaches that hasten brownfield redevelopment. McGinty highlighted the administration's significant track record of making environmental protection work for businesses and employees during testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives panel in September.

The governor's Business in Our Sites Fund provides $300 million to help local redevelopment authorities and economic development corporations acquire, remediate and prepare shovel-ready sites for businesses that are seeking to build or expand immediately. PennWorks, a $250 million voter-approved bond initiative, finances improvements to aging water and wastewater systems that can serve as a disincentive to development.

Launched in 2004, BAT creates a single-point-of-contact to streamline permitting processes for sites that local officials target for redevelopment. BAT relies on communities to tell DEP which brownfield projects are priorities for revitalizing an area and requires communities to show cleanup and financing plans as well as the proposed use of the site and its benefits to the area.

The Rendell administration added another enhancement through a historic Memorandum of Agreement between DEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make Pennsylvania's Land Recycling Program the first and only in the nation to serve as a "one-stop shop" for state and federal standards guiding the cleanup of brownfield sites.

The memorandum clarifies that sites remediated under the state's brownfields program also satisfy requirements for three key federal laws: the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation Liability Act, commonly referred to as Superfund; and the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Brownfields are abandoned, idled or underused industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by environmental issues. For more information, visit DEP's Web site at http://www.dep.state.pa.us/, Keyword: "Land Recycling."

The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit his Web site at: http://www.governor.state.pa.us/.

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