PA’s Land-Recycling Project Earns Phoenix Award

Wed November 06, 2002 - Northeast Edition

Pennsylvania’s model land-recycling program has reaped another national award, as the South Side works site in Pittsburgh will receive the Phoenix Award.

“We are pleased the South Side Works project has been recognized with this award,” David E. Hess, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) secretary said. “This redevelopment at a former steel plant is breathing new life into a downtown Pittsburgh neighborhood, and fits perfectly with the transformation of Pittsburgh into a high-tech hub.”

The Phoenix Award will be presented at the Brownfields 2002 Conference in Charlotte, NC, in November.

The winning project is on the site of the former LTV Steel South Side Works, which was purchased by the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh in 1993. There was contamination of both soil and groundwater by a variety of pollutants.

The site was cleaned up under Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program, which works with developers to return former industrial sites to productive use by cleaning up pollution to make the site safe for future planned use, while relieving the new owner of liability.

“This site and its location has provided us a great opportunity to truly create a spectacular new mixed-use development in the city,” said Damian Soffer, president of the Soffer Organization. “It is adding a vibrancy and excitement in the new, high-tech Pittsburgh.”

The Soffer Organization is in the process of completing a $225-million mixed-use project planned in the central portion of the South Side Works site.

So far, more than 1,400 jobs have been created at the South Side Works site. Soffer recently has opened an $18-million office building there, housing the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The Urban Redevelopment Authority has opened the first of many planned parking garages, and has attracted several businesses to the project. These include the UPMC Distribution Center, the UPMC Sports Performance Complex, the McGowan Center for Artificial Organ Development, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Regional Headquarters, and the regional headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The site, at full development, is expected to be home for 5,500 employees.

Earlier projects include the $14-million renovation of the former Mon Con Connecting Bridge, which provides access between Oakland and the South Side. Construction has started on The Residences at the SSW, a 270-unit apartment complex. Two other residential developments, the Carson Street Retirement Facility (96 units) and the Sarah Street Townhomes (30 units), already are open on the site.

“Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program is a national model,” Hess said. “Since 1995, we have rehabbed more than 1,100 sites, and more than 30,000 Pennsylvanians are working on those sites.”

President George W. Bush earlier this year chose the 1,000th rehabbed site, the Millennium Project in Montgomery County, to sign a national brownfields law modeled after Pennsylvania state law.

Since 1997, the Phoenix Awards have recognized groups that develop innovative yet practical projects that bring blighted, old commercial and industrial sites back to productive use. These projects serve as models for other communities, by providing real-life examples of the accomplishments that can arise out of the new brownfields initiatives across the country.

Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program has won several Phoenix Awards over the past six years. Last year, the Erie Front Street Complex won the Grand Prize as the national Phoenix Award winner. This project spearheaded the revitalization of Erie’s waterfront, and houses the Erie Maritime Museum, Erie County Public Library, Liberty Park, and a dockside amphitheater.

Other Pennsylvania Phoenix Award Winning sites are the Industri-plex in Pittsburgh, 1999: Sovereign Oil Redevelopment in Philadelphia, 1999; Ingersoll-Rand Redevelopment Project in Charleroi, Washington County, 1998; Capital City Airport Terminal Project in York County, 1998; Crawford County Industrial Park, 1997; Washington’s Landing at Herr’s Island, Pittsburgh, 1997; Industrial Plaza of York County, 1997; and the Monesson Coke Plant, Westmoreland County, 1997.