Ford City Manufacturer Seeks Option on Brownfield Property

BelleFlex President/CEO Bruce Kinney points to the 42.5 acres and shows (in blue) where his company desires to build another manufacturing plant.

A manufacturer based in Ford City has an opportunity for expansion, but needs more room to do it.

BelleFlex purchased the former Heritage Technology also known as the PPG Shop 2 building, in 2010 from F&M Bank following foreclosure when Ford City gave over their interest in the property.

Since then, BelleFlex has developed a manufacturing operation that includes disc springs, oil filtration, and even critical safety components that were used when NASA built a new docking system at the international space station – all made in Ford City.

BelleFlex President and CEO Bruce Kinney was at last night’s Borough Council meeting to explain their company and provide basic information on the expansion through a PowerPoint presentation.

Kinney confirmed that BelleFlex is currently in negotiations with Ford City Borough to obtain an option on the 42.5 acres brownfield that is between the BelleFlex property and the Veterans Bridge along the Allegheny River.

Scott McDowell, Chief Financial Officer for BelleFlex, said they do not plan on using the entire brownfield acreage, but it depends on the outcome of the project.

“It is my understanding that the piece of property is under one title. It would cost the Borough money to subdivide it. So unless they have another need right now, we are looking on an option for the entire piece and then have them come talk to us if during that option period they have some other use. Then they could spend the money (for subdivision). We looked at it that it would be good for the Borough and good for us because we don’t know the exact size we want anyway at this point of time right now.”

Kinney said an option must be done first in order for BelleFlex to move on development of a new manufacturing venture.

McDowell would not elaborate on the product that would be manufactured in the new facility, but did confirm that a new building consisting of as much as 300,000 square feet will be erected that will be used in the manufacturing process.

The price for the option is still being negotiated by BelleFlex and the Borough. No financial numbers were released.

Kinney estimated it could bring BelleFlex’s staffing to more than 200, with jobs ranging from truck loaders to engineers. He emphasized his desire to hire workers who live in Ford City and the surrounding area.

PennEnergy Resources had  preliminary conversations in September 2016 to lease up to five acres in the Ford City brownfield for $125,000 for five years. The company planned to have a facility to withdraw water from the Allegheny River, hold it in a tank facility and will then be used at PennEnergy’s natural gas operations in-and-around the region. That lease did not come to fruition and Council posted the acreage for sale on their website in December 2016.

An aerial view of the Ford City brownfield property appeared on the Ford City Borough website. It has been advertised for sale for the past two years.