Developer proclaims: ‘It’s a new day in New Kensington’
“Let the world know that it’s a new day in New Kensington.”
Those were the words of local developer Brian Clark and the theme of Tuesday’s New Kensington Redevelopment Authority meeting, its first since the deal was wrapped up late last week to acquire Schreiber Industrial Park.
The authority closed on an $8 million deal for a 70-acre, 1.25 million-square-foot parcel along the city’s riverfront, home of the once-burgeoning Alcoa aluminum works that occupied the area from 1891 to the mid-1970s when the last machine shop was shuttered.
While innovations surrounding uses of aluminum were the focal point in the early 20th century, the focus now will be on modern technological innovations such as artificial intelligence.
Clark envisions a name and a logo to describe what officials hope becomes a center for advanced manufacturing.“We need to reserve space there,” Clark said. “There’s no more room in the (Pittsburgh) Strip District for companies there to expand.”
“It’s going to be exciting, but it’s going to be a lot of hard work,” New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo said.
Clark and solicitor John Ward described the negotiations as “touch and go” with issues coming up as close to 10 minutes before last Thursday’s closing.
Officials said Tuesday that the 16 current tenants are excited about the new ownership and some former tenants are thinking about coming back.In addressing future needs, Guzzo and other officials hope local residents train at Penn State University and Westmoreland County Community College for the modern-day manufacturing jobs.
The day the United States entered World War I in 1917, Alcoa received an order from the federal government for 1 million aluminum canteens for the troops in Europe. Now, officials want to be ready if an industry moves in and needs employees immediately.
New demolition contract
The redevelopment authority received the OK to seek contract bids to demolish five properties in New Kensington.The money for the demolitions will be obtained from the federal Community Development Block Grant program.
The properties are at:
• 1261-63 Kenneth Ave.
• 1223 Victoria Ave.
• 359 Main St.
• 513 Linden Ave.
• 1123 Woodmont Ave.
A future round of funding would address an old gasoline station at 215 Ninth St. and a structure at 523 Earl Ave.
George Guido is a freelance writer