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Bethlehem Commerce Center Wins Top Environmental Award for Innovative Redevelopment
Release Date: 12/14/2006
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543
PHILADELPHIA f The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today honored the
Lehigh Valley Industrial Park, Inc. (LVIP) and HDR Engineering, Inc. for their work in
transforming 1,000 acres of the former Bethlehem Steel plant into the Bethlehem Commerce
Center in Bethlehem, Pa. EPA Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh presented the nationally-
recognized Phoenix Award to Bethlehem Commerce Center team, the mid-Atlantic region's
2006 winner, for their innovative remediation and redevelopment efforts.
"The Bethlehem Commerce Center project proves that environmental protection and
sustainable economic development go hand-in-hand," said Welsh. "The team's efforts to return
this former industrial property back into productive use while ensuring that the property is
effectively cleaned up deserves special recognition. EPA is proud to be a partner with the
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, LVIP, HDR Engineering and the City of
Bethlehem in this huge revitalization venture."
Created in 1997, the Phoenix Awards are given annually by the non-profit Phoenix
Awards Institute to recognize individuals and groups working to solve critical environmental
challenges of transforming old and contaminated areas into productive new uses.
The Bethlehem Commerce Center project has been an innovative community effort to
transform the one-time economic heart of Bethlehem into a flourishing home for commercial
buildings and businesses. Since the steel manufacturing facility ceased operations almost 10
years ago, redevelopment of the site has been a high priority for Lehigh Valley. The property
represents 20 percent of the City of Bethlehem's taxable land and has been largely undeveloped
since the company closed its doors.
The property contained the remnants of 140 years of steel manufacturing -- buried
building foundation, abandoned infrastructure lines, and contaminated soil and groundwater.
When the non-profit Lehigh Valley Industrial Park purchased the property in 2004, the
Bethlehem Steel Corporation had already put the property on the road to redevelopment,
identifying it as the single most important economic development project for the region.
It is estimated that at full build out, the Bethlehem Commerce Center will generate in
excess of $1.5 billion in new investment and add 6,000 new jobs to the Lehigh Valley with an
annual payroll of $210 million.
The success of this project is the direct result of an innovative work team that has been
established for the project consisting of representatives from EPA, the Pennsylvania Department
of Environmental Protection, LVIP, HDR Engineering, Inc. and the City of Bethlehem.
"The work team process has been enormously successful for the Bethlehem Commerce
Center project, allowing real-time environmental planning decisions to take place without
resulting in project delays during the agency review and approval process," said Dr. William
Ahlert, vice president with HDR Engineering, Inc. "This project is a great example of how
strong partnerships between government, non-profit, community and private entities can address
environmental challenges effectively in a timely and cost effective manner to the betterment of
Some of the recent redevelopment efforts at the site include:
- the construction of U.S. Cold Storage, a nationwide refrigeration company that stores
and distributes frozen food, which became the first business in the Center in 2004;
- the September 2005 completion of a new $12 million intermodal facility;
- the completion of a $13 million 4,200 linear foot four lane Commerce Center Boulevard
which opened in December 2005, making redevelopment possible for over 500 acres of
the former steel facility;
- the acquisition of approximately 31 acres of the former mills in March 2006 by Primo
Produce which plans to construct a 75,000 square foot regional produce distribution
- the announcement that the City of Bethlehem's largest employer, Receivable
Management Services, will be moving its worldwide headquarters to the Commerce
Center, which will house 800 employees;
- the development of two wood products facilities, Foulk Warehousing and Eastern
Engineered Wood Products, on 18-acre and 45-acre parcels;
- the purchase of 20 acres in April 2006 by Brandenburg for the purpose of establishing
their eastern headquarters and constructing a regional recycling facility that will be used
to process reusable building and structural steel components recovered from brownfield
sites undergoing redevelopment;
- LVIP has nearly completed construction of all the major infrastructure associated with
the Saucon Tract of the site, which includes the construction of 6,500 linear feet of
roadway, and the installation of sanitary and storm sewers and utilities.
The Bethlehem Commerce Center Project also won the prestigious People's Choice
Award, which is presented to the project that receives the most votes from the National
Brownfields 2006 Conference attendees who participated in the annual conference held in
Boston last month.
More information about the Phoenix Awards is available at:
More information about the remediation at the Bethlehem Commerce Center is available