For Sale: Brown Field in Ford City

“X” marks the spot of 42.5 acres along the Allegheny River in Ford City that is for sale or lease.

FORD CITY – Borough Council last night approved an extension for the current Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) that is located on 42 acres of the former PPG property.

The KOZ gives developers tax incentives and free property taxes during the period the property is designated KOZ – normally ten years.

Council Vice-President Tyson Klukan explained the property limitations.

“Obviously that brown field has been vacant for years. Currently it is on our website for sale or lease. (We are) entertaining any options if someone wants to buy it. It is not subdivided at all. You have 42.5 acres of land down there currently zoned industrial. Obviously with it zoned industrial right now, there are some issues within the deed that you cannot put certain businesses on there because it is set in the deed.”

Ford City Council Vice-President Tyson Klukan said an extension of the tax-free zone for the old PPG brown field property could motivate a developer to consider the site.

Klukan said the problem with lack of interest in the property hinges on the fact no one has been actively selling it.

“It hasn’t been properly marketed that way. So coming in with the new (comprehensive) plan I’d like to hopefully market that better with the comprehensive plan we are updating.”

Klukan said that because the ground contains potential contamination if the topsoil was unearthed, it raises the cost of building on it.

“You can dig into the brown field, but there are certain limitations of how deep you can dig. There are certain requirements in certain areas of the brown field. It’s currently Act 2, which means it is environmentally safe, but if someone wants to do a full reclamation of that whole property, it’s going to cost millions to dig deeper, but that is something a private investor would want to look at. It would be up to them.”

Previous councils had several local persons wanting to develop the property, but never acted upon it.

“There was interest in businesses wanting to put in down there. Those conversations I obviously don’t know what was said,” Klukan said. “I wish those would be back on the table or those businesses that were interested would have that conversation again. That was past administration.”

Klukan said he envisions several uses for the property.

“I would like to see some incubators and manufacturing – maybe a machine shop or robotics. But I would like to see the energy sector. With the Shell plant being built in Beaver County, there will be a lot of spin-offs and they are looking for flat land.”

Ford City has never pursued creating a water front similar to other communities along the Allegheny. That is something Klukan said should be explored.

“Ford City does need access to the river. That’s going to take either grant funding or private investment as well. It’s going to be tough down on the lower section because you have that concrete wall but I am sure there is a way somewhere along that river bank from Dogtown down to the Veteran’s Bridge to put in some kind of access to the river.”

Klukan dispelled rumors that a hotel, resort or casino has been proposed for the property.

Now that Ford City has authorized the extension of the term of the KOZ, it must also be approved by the Armstrong School District and the County of Armstrong.

10 comments on “For Sale: Brown Field in Ford City
  1. jd718 says:

    Apartment buildings you say? What about the asbestos removal? Old peoples homes you say? What about the present Administrations proposed changes to Medicaid and healthcare. What portion of the elderly receive Medicaid? With the changes to come, how many will be able to remain in elder care facilities?

  2. jorn jensen says:

    Resident, on the bedroom idea for Pittsburghers, what about the abandoned school buildings? Could an entire classroom become a multi-room apartment? True, old school buildings look like old school buildings forever, but the brick and mortar are in place and that cost would be saved. Just need to remodel the interior. The buildings have parking lots unless they’re given away to the museum (one of the parking lots).

    All you need is the light rail or other reliable transportation system to Pittsburgh and start selling it.

    One other proposal for the school buildings was old peoples’ homes. Another good idea as that is all that will be left around here- old people.

  3. savvynewshound says:

    This property has been “available” for how long? We all know the school board, once voting districts were realigned, would NEVER put the schools in Ford City even if the property was free.

    These properties are a dime a dozen up and down the river valleys. Ford City has to make this one special. #foodtrucksandfestivalsdontgrowthetown

  4. jorn jensen says:

    Excellent assessment, Resident. Refreshing to read a well-thought-out comment on this site.

    The ‘not-in-my-back-yard’ crowd is what killed the county airport project years back, yet government has a pile of money in McVille airport.

    Industrial use of river water is not a ‘draw’ for industry these days – government has water so protected that the cost to use river water would be prohibitive.

    Maybe you’re correct about forgetting about making it industrial – make the area a bedroom community for Pittsburgh. The rail is still in place on the west side of the river and the Veterans bridge is right there. Putting the rail back in on the east side of the river is still feasible because the land is held in a ‘rail bank’ and could be brought back. The ‘crossing’ would be on the railroad bridge at Freeport – you’d still need to get to the other side of the river to get to Pittsburgh. Putting the rail back in, this side of the river, down toward Arnold, New Kensington, and further might be too much of a challenge.

    Armstrong County is a beautiful county – great topography, river running right down through it. Tourism is probably the last great frontier for this area, but a bedroom community for Pittsburgh is a good idea also.

  5. Resident says:

    OK. There are numerous problems with the property for manufacturing that everyone is aware of – contamination, transportation access, etc. Two big questions jump out: 1Are the people of the community going to be a problem? Truck traffic, noise, smell… 2 Why would I want to locate there when the community views me primarily as a source of funding when there are so many other options? Do I want to deal with a local town council and complaining residents? There are available industrial parks and land everywhere. The river is the only advantage here but only if I need to pump massive quantities of water. Closed locks eliminate the transportation option. What will the comprehensive community plan look like? I would suggest you take a ride to Foxburg and look at what they have done to their riverfront. Forget about being an industrial town. Transform and market yourself as a bedroom community with easy access to Pittsburgh. If you can get a light-rail shuttle line going so much the better. Move the ‘we don’t want this in our community!’ people out of the way. You will need clubs and entertainment venues to attract the 25-40 demographic. The alternative is storage bays, industrial storage/pumping (massive truck traffic), or if your lucky, some light manufacturer but how has that been working out for you so far? Re-invent yourself or slowly die.

  6. Resident says:

    What is Ford City’s website? is listed as the ‘official website’ of the borough but there’s nothing there except ‘This site is under construction – March 2016.

  7. jd718 says:

    Rail access could be made on the opposite side of the river. I wish Ford City luck with this deal, it’s a long shoot.

  8. Rainbow Rider says:

    Such a shame that ppg left behind a polluted and dangerous piece of land.
    I’ve talked to a former employee who said you wouldn’t believe what all is buried there.
    PPG should be made to spend the millions of dollars for cleanup, rather than buying naming rights to an arena!

  9. Rainbow Rider says:

    Call upon your fjorty years of business contacts!
    We’ll have a business there by the time you get out!
    Maybe a factory that makes orange jump suits!
    Get ready to do the Jailhouse Rock!
    Careful with that soap!

  10. jorn jensen says:

    Maybe the school could have been built there – easy to put in a football field. Wouldn’t have to pay off the bats – there’s no trees. Would FC council have ‘given’ it to the ASD?

    For industrial development, the site lacks rail access. Water access, this far up the Allegheny has pretty much had a fork put in it by the Corps of Engineers. Truck access is okay, but not great – the Veterans bridge does give easy access to both sides of the river, but roads, both sides, are ‘weak’ to get to real highways. Fjord City residents surely wouldn’t be happy with the truck traffic.

    I agree with Klukan – Id like to see it developed into industrial – bring some fresh money to town. Free taxes for 10 years, courtesy of the taxpayers paying those taxes for some commercial enterprise, and we still can’t ‘give it away’ indicates some real problems with this area. Likewise out at Northpointe.

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