Keystone Boulevard projects move forward in Pottstown – The Mercury
POTTSTOWN – While the borough is rich in historic architecture and industrial sites, one thing the five square mile municipality lacks is a surplus of developable land.
“We are in desperate need of inventory,” said Peggy Lee-Clark, executive director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development, at a joint borough council and Pottstown school board meeting on September 30. land on which we can eventually develop something.
Lee-Clark said she “kept telling” (Borough Director Justin Keller) we need more land and we need more property. “
Perhaps the place with the greatest potential for development in Pottstown is the 225 acres divided into 13 plots along Keystone Boulevard. Formerly called derisively “the road to nowhere”, it is gradually becoming a road to somewhere.
The iron globe
The most recent project to consider is an open-air concert hall tentatively called “The Iron Globe”.
“It’s in its infancy,” Lee-Clark said at the joint meeting. “But we just got over a big hurdle in getting to own property and getting a deal to sell.”
The 11-acre parcel is located just west of the Highway 100 overpass over Keystone Boulevard.
The developers envision a 2,200-seat outdoor music to present the live entertainment. The plans call for environmentally friendly architecture and design, state-of-the-art sound, lights, video screens and seating, Lee-Clark said.
The site, which is to be developed in phases, would also include activity platforms for young people ranging from an ice rink covered with a fabricated material, not ice, which “comes in pieces and can be moved around the field. Said Lee-Clark. The plans also call for interactive games played on 35-foot high-definition LED screens; fireplaces, old-fashioned hospitality and dining, and drive-thru movies.
“This is all very preliminary,” said Lee-Clark, who later in his presentation reminded everyone of some truths about economic development – “some projects will never come to fruition” and “everything takes longer than anyone else. had never foreseen it “.
The Iron Globe project will require an environmental assessment of the land. Although phase 1 and phase 2 studies have already been carried out there, “they are 10 years old,” the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection “will no longer accept them, so you have to start all over again”, a- she declared.
Green energy factory
A significantly more advanced Keystone Boulevard project is the $ 142 million Pottstown Sustainable Energy Plant on 10.33 acres adjacent to the Heritage Coach business.
First offered in April 2020, the plant will use a process – not combustion – to convert cellulose like wood pallets, paper and cardboard into diesel fuel.
When first proposed, the projections predicted the creation of 50 jobs. This has since grown to 110 full-time jobs with an average salary of $ 66,000.
Part of that is due to the likelihood “that this location will serve as the headquarters of several factories (five to 10 factories across the country), so it’s a really exciting project that we have here,” said Lee-Clark.
Site design is now complete and the developers are working to get permits and approvals from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Lee-Clark said. Utility works with PECO to secure natural gas and electricity connections are underway, as is work to connect to water and sewer services provided by the Pottstown Borough Authority.
Construction is currently scheduled to begin in April 2022 and the plant will be fully operational by December 2023, Lee Clark said.
During the 18-month construction period, the project will generate 245 construction jobs, she said.
In June 2020, the borough council approved a zoning overlay that allows power plants in the Keystone Employment and Economic Plan (KEEP) zone along the highway.
Lee-Clark said the KEEP committee, whose members include officials from Pottstown and the Township of West Pottsgrove who are familiar with plans for the area, will serve as the planning agency. “It will still have to go to the board for final approval,” she said.
Extension of Keystone Boulevard
The KEEP Planning Committee was formed as a joint venture with West Pottsgrove to help plan and encourage land development and redevelopment along the Keystone Boulevard Corridor. It was formed after the adoption in 2019 of the area plan by the borough and the township.
Keystone Boulevard currently ends at the border between the two, but the intention has always been to extend it across West Pottsgrove to connect the properties to the recently reconstructed Route 422 Stowe interchange.
This would aid in the redevelopment efforts of the 80-acre site once occupied by the Stanley Flagg Brass factory. While most of this site is located in West Pottsgrove, 29 acres are across the line in the borough.
“This is a critical connection to connect the Route 422 Interchange at Hanover Street to the Stowe Interchange, which would only bring further interest and development to this area,” said the Borough Director Justin Keller on the Joint Committee.
The estimated cost of the road extension is $ 6 million, of which about $ 4.5 million would be paid by the county and federal governments with another $ 1.5 million from the borough.
“As developers who can afford it arrive, we ask them to contribute,” Keller said. The developers of the green power plan have already pledged $ 600,000 to this effort, he said.Twitter recap of the joint meeting of the borough council and the Pottstown school board of September 30, 2021