Pa.’s Gateway Project to Open New Doors

Mon September 01, 2008 - Northeast Edition
Mary Reed




Charles D. Armstrong owned a cork business in Lancaster, Pa., around the turn of the century. Deciding to expand his business, he built a linoleum-manufacturing facility on Liberty Street in 1907, thus founding a company that would become famous for its tile flooring.

For a century Armstrong World Industries manufactured this and other products at the facility. It was a flourishing concern, which by the middle of the 1940s employed more than 7,500 workers. However, as has been the case in other industries, its fortunes began to decline, in large part due to increased competition and changes in public taste, so that by l973 its payroll had decreased to approximately 3,000. It now stands at around 250, after downsizing took place in 2005.

A partnership formed by Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster General Hospital and the Lancaster Economic Development Company (LCEDC) is currently redeveloping most of the Armstrong site, 47 acres of which were acquired by LCEDC affiliate EDC Finance Corporation in August 2006.

Costs for the project will be split several ways. “Armstrong provided $6 million,” said David Nikoloff, president of EDC Finance Corporation. “Franklin & Marshall College and Lancaster Hospital will each contribute $6 million, with state and local government providing the remaining funding from various grant and loan programs.”

“The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection [PA DEP] and the parties involved have entered into an agreement whereby the properties will be remediated to a ’residential’ standard,” he continued. “This is the highest and best use under the law and permits the land to be used for anything from industrial to residential. Already the city has zoned the land mixed-use, permitting any use under the local zoning law, including those contemplated by the college and hospital.”

The initiative, known as Lancaster’s Northwest Gateway/Armstrong Project is a vital component to the revitalization of that portion of the city.

It is expected that more than $100 million of development and more than 1,500 jobs will result from this project. Armstrong has retained 19 acres of the site, which will be upgraded and continue to be devoted to manufacturing vinyl products.

Brandenburg Industrial Service Company, headquartered in Chicago, handled site preparation.

“We carried out demolition and asbestos abatement of the 2.3-million-square-foot plant,” said John O’Keefe, sales marketing manager. “The job involved removing all foundations 6 feet below grade and also below-grade environmental remediation.”

The demolition of approximately 110 buildings on the 47-acre (19 ha) site generated approximately 200,000 cu. yd. (152,911 cu m) of debris. More than 1.5 million bricks were saved for resale.

“On average we had some 70 employees working on site,” O’Keefe continued. “Equipment utilized included Caterpillar D9 bulldozer, 973 track loader, and 988 and 980 wheel loaders, as well as Liebherr 924, 954, and 984 track excavators, and Bobcat S300 skid steers.”

Brandenburg also used a number of attachments on the job, including shears, grapples, processors, buckets, hydraulic breakers and brick picks. Company self-fabricated rail cars hauled scrap.

The Radnor Property Group, based in Wayne, Pa., is managing the project, which will be carried out in the following phases:

• Demolition

• Remediation

• Infrastructure construction

• Planning of athletic facilities

• Construction of athletic facilities

Demolition and remediation have now been completed. Abel Construction Company Inc., headquartered in Mountville, Pa., commenced earthmoving operations on April 29 to prepare for the infrastructure construction phase.

The company is currently installing sanitary sewer, storm sewer and waterline.

“At this time bulk earthmoving has been completed and installation of the rest of the infrastructure, including sewers and waterline, curbing, sidewalk, paving, dry utilities, landscaping and lighting remains to be done,” said Tony Kreider, vice president of business development of Abel Construction. Approximately 220,000 cu. yd. (168,202 cu m) of material have been moved to date, he added.

Thirty Abel employees are currently working on the $6 million job, using two Caterpillar D-8R bulldozers and a Caterpillar D-5G bulldozer as well as three Caterpillar 953D track loaders and a Caterpillar 815F compactor. Also in use are two Bomag BW213D rollers, four Terex TS-14G scrapers, and two Terex TA-30 trucks. A pair of Case CX 290 excavators and a Case CX 330 excavator, a Deere 750J bulldozer and three 310 SG backhoe loaders round out the equipment fleet at work on the job.

“Our phase of work not only involved the installation of new infrastructure, but also the removal of existing facilities,” Kreider noted. “No problems have been experienced to date, and we are on schedule for the estimated time of completion of mid 2009,” he continued, praising the teamwork and cooperation experienced in his company’s dealings with the trio of entities making up the project partnership.

A future phase calls for the relocation of a railroad yard to create a strip of land connecting the college’s north campus with the new facilities. This part of the project is slated to begin in the fall of 2008 and to take about three years to complete.

Franklin & Marshall College will use its holding for softball, baseball and soccer fields and a football stadium. When not in use these facilities will be made available to city residents by the college.

“The college is fortunate to have this opportunity, and we were thrilled to be able to form and lead the partnership that will not only transform our campus but nearly one-quarter of the city,” said Keith A. Orris, vice president of administrative services and external affairs of Franklin & Marshall College. “We will use the new acreage to more fully integrate athletics and recreation into the student experience and provide for nearly 75 years of future growth on our core campus.”

Although it is too early for Lancaster General Hospital to announce what will be built on its parcel of land, an area equal to approximately four city blocks, possibilities include medical research and treatment facilities, offices, and a nursing college for 2,000 students.

“In the year ending June 30, 2007, Lancaster General Hospital registered 93,499 visits to its emergency department, while in the year ending June 30, 2008, we saw 100,238 visits. That’s an increase of 7.2 percent,” John P. Lines, hospital community relations director, said. “Classes at our Lancaster General College of Nursing & Health Sciences, currently located at Lemon and Lime streets in the city, are full and we have waiting lists of students wanting to pursue careers in health care.”

About the Companies

Founded in 1972, Abel Construction Company Inc. originally worked on various small projects in York County, Pa. The company now maintains an annual volume of $28 to $30 million in an area of operation expanded to include south central Pennsylvania and part of northern Maryland. The company is pre-qualified in Harford and Carroll counties in Maryland as well as with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

The majority of its work involves installation of site infrastructure for private development, including retail, residential, commercial and retirement projects. It recently completed site work on several large projects in Pennsylvania, including Covered Bridge Marketplace, a retail site in Lancaster; Rentzel Heights, a single-family residential development in York; and Newport Square, a mixed-use community located in Lititz.

Brandenburg Industrial Service Company, headquartered in Chicago, was originally established as Brandenburg Demolition Inc. in 1968. With additional regional offices in Gary, Ind., Lincoln Park, Mich., and Bethlehem, Pa., it offers clients structural and selective demolition, foundation removal, grading, and excavation as well as asbestos abatement and soil remediation. Recent projects include decommissioning the world’s largest mine for BHP Copper Inc., Arizona, and the renovation of Soldier Field, Chicago, as well as work on Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium, the Chicago Sun Times Building, and cleanup after the collapse of the Tropicana Parking Garage in Atlantic City, N.J. CEG