ALLENPORT – One of Washington County’s largest industrial sites is being marketed to manufacturers around the country by one of the world’s largest real estate firms.
The 896,000-square-foot Mon River Industrial Park, the former site of a Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel rolling mill, was shown Thursday morning during an open house by the Pittsburgh office of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.
Thursday’s tour of the 400-acre site was presented to representatives of other commercial real estate firms as well as Washington County commissioners, the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County, Middle Monongahela Industrial Development Association and the Mon Valley Progress Council.
Newmark Grubb, headquartered in New York and one of the world’s largest real estate firms, is marketing the site for Mon River Industrial Group, a partnership formed by Louis Ruscitto of Peters Township. Ruscitto purchased the Allenport site in February 2012 for $6 million from RG Steel of Maryland.
Standing on the floor of the former 100,000-square-foot shipping/receiving area for steel coils, Newmark Grubb Director Joel Kreider told a reporter and photographer that what matters most to potential industrial clients is the massive infrastructure that is in sound shape throughout the site. He added that the region’s bounty of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale play is also a big selling point.
The amenities include a “loop track” rail line surrounding the property that makes for efficient loading and unloading of unit trains, those carrying one type of material.
He said the rail track, which is serviced by Norfolk Southern, can handle 80 to 110 unit cars of raw material.
Once the railroad brings cars to the site, they’re attached to one of two of the plant’s locomotives for loading or unloading.
The site also includes a 1,000-foot concrete wall for barge access from the adjacent Monongahela River, as well as a transloading area from rail cars to trucks.
Once inside, the plant, which consists of 500,000 square feet of production space and 383,000 square feet of warehouse space, contains 16 overhead cranes ranging from 5 to 16 tons.
It’s a big industrial site locally and regionally.
The largest industrial site in Washington County is the Pennsylvania Transformer Technologies plant, at 1.1 million square feet. Economic development officials said Thursday that the Allenport plant would be just behind it.
“This is truly an asset that is uncommon anywhere in Western Pennsylvania,” Kreider said. “The bones of this building are in great shape.”
Other features include dual-feed heavy power with an on-site substation, a 12-inch main feed gas line, as well as 4-inch steel high pressure lines; a river water pump house capable of producing 15,000 gallons per minute; an on-site water treatment facility and fiber optic lines for telephone and data communications.
Kreider also noted that the new ownership also holds natural gas rights for the entire 400-acre site, making it capable of producing its own gas for production operations.
In addition to Newmark Grubb’s national marketing effort for the site, Kreider said it’s also being helped by Norfolk Southern, which is promoting the site to its industrial customers around the country.
In addition to the plant, Kreider noted there are 35 acres of flat, developable land on the site.
The firm said it will offer potential industrial customers the options of subdividing or leasing land or building to suit.
The Mon River Industrial Group worked with the redevelopment authority to have the site designated as a Keystone Opportunity Zone, enabling qualifying businesses that locate there to receive breaks for a number of years on sales, personal income, capital stock franchise and mercantile license taxes.
Outside of the industrial park, Newmark Grubb is also marketing more than 90 acres of flat developable KOZ land bordering the Mon River at Allenport that was formerly owned by Wheeling Pitt.
The site, which began producing steel in 1918 by the former Pittsburgh Steel Products Co., and later Pittsburgh Steel Co., began making hot and cold rolled sheet and strip steel when a sheet mill was constructed there in 1953. All of the current buildings were constructed between the early 1950s and the 1990s.
In 1968, the mill became a part of Wheeling Pittsburgh’s operations following a merger between Wheeling Pitt and Pittsburgh Steel.
The Allenport plant at one time employed more than 3,200 hourly and salaried employees.
Whether the site can reclaim those glory days remains to be seen, but Kreider said the plant’s sound structure, amenities and access to rail, water and interstate highway transportation have something else going for it –availability of cheap energy being produced by the Marcellus Shale, a necessity if the United States hopes to realize a goal of reviving domestic manufacturing.
“Anybody (in industry) who’s using energy is taking a real hard look at Western Pennsylvania because of the natural gas supply here,” he said.