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James Fink
August 31, 2021

A pair of real estate transactions in Lackawanna could lead to new development at the former Bethlehem Steel Co.

In separate deals for former steel plant land:

  • Bethlehem Solar Park LLC – an affiliate of the Frontier Group of Cos. — acquired 10 acres of vacant, land at 2800 Hamburg Turnpike and will build 2.3 megawatt solar farm. Bethlehem Solar Park paid $50,000 for the property, buying it from Great Lakes Industrial Development LLC, according to documents filed in the Erie County Clerk’s office.
  • And at 2303 Hamburg Turnpike, also in Lackawanna, the Buffalo and Erie County Industrial Land Development Corp., an affiliate of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, paid $473,700 for 31 acres. The ECIDA bought the land from Tecumseh Development Inc., the Pennsylvania-based entity that sold the county development agency 154 acres of former Bethlehem Steel land that has since been remediated and is being marketed as shovel-ready.

2800 Hamburg Turnpike

Chris Wietig, Frontier Group’s director of business development, said work on the solar plant is expected to start next spring.

The $4.5 million project will have 5,824 modules – each about five feet tall. The power generated will be used by Frontier for a number of local projects, including the 500 Seneca St. building, he said.

“It will take a big bite out of our usage costs,” Wietig said.

Much of the solar farm will front on Route 5 (Hamburg Turnpike) and Jackson Street on a portion of the property that was heavily damaged in a November 2016 fire.

Frontier is working with Lackawanna on approvals needed. Some minor demolition may be needed.

“We want the site to look a little different from the road than the way it looks today,” Wietig said.

Richard Stanton, Lackawanna director of development, said the solar farm is considered a “good reuse.”

“It will make for a better transition from the residential nature of Jackson Street to the commercial aspect of the turnpike,” Stanton said.

2303 Hamburg Turnpike

John Cappellino, ECIDA president and CEO, said the land will be remediated and made shovel-ready to meet a growing demand for development sites between the Peace Bridge south toward Lackawanna and Hamburg.

TMP Technologies Inc. has developed a manufacturing/distribution site on some of the 154 acres along Dona Street extension running into Route 5, and Uniland Development Co. is planning a distribution center nearby.

“The immediate plan will be to look to sell and develop the sites immediately to the south of Dona Street as those are already served with utilities and road frontage,” Cappellino said.

Cappellino said the focus will be to bring light manufacturing and spec warehouse/distribution space to the 31 acres.

“We want to create employment opportunities for the residents of the county,” Cappellino said.