Water, Sewer Lines Key to Pittsburgh Int'l Airport Area Development

The project is one of the first fruits of a concerted effort by the county, the Allegheny County Airport Authority, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and others to produce development-ready sites in the airport corridor for light...

Until the lines are finished, Imperial Land will spend its time marketing the property and running its own connections. Bunda said the company had talked to potential tenants.

"Hopefully, we're able to entice businesses to build, as long as they know it's coming and under construction," he said.

The Imperial Land project is just one of the signs that the corridor could be on the verge of living up to its long-made promise.

Two weeks ago, developers broke ground on a $30 million expansion of the Imperial Business Park in North Fayette that will add 450,000 square feet of light manufacturing and warehouse distribution space on 55 acres near Route 22/30. The first building should be ready by spring.

One reason developers chose to expand at the site was the proximity of a Findlay Connector interchange minutes away.

The Airport Authority also hopes to begin grading and infrastructure work on the 100-acre Clinton Industrial Park site in two to three months. The Buncher Co. has signed a letter of intent to build a 400,000-square-foot warehouse at the site, which is off Route 60 near Clinton Road; but the deal has not been completed.

Authority officials also hope to bid for road work and grading at the 160-acre Cherrington Extension site adjacent to the existing Cherrington office park early next year. About 60 acres are considered developable.

The authority also hopes to start grading and infrastructure improvements at the 120-acre Route 30 industrial park next year.

It hopes to do a mix of warehousing, light manufacturing, office space and hotels at the various airport sites.

The corridor appears to be blossoming at just the right time.

Lou Oliva, senior vice president of industrial properties for Grubb & Ellis Co., said the vacancy rate for all industrial space was about 8 percent in the Pittsburgh market for the first quarter. For Class A industrial space, it was less than 6 percent.

"With Class A under six, you're talking full capacity," he said.

Oliva said the region's inventory of industrial space had plummeted since the 1980s, when the manufacturing and steel industries pushed total square footage to more than 300 million. Now there's about 110 million available, and nearly all of that is taken.

He said that if Sony wanted to build a television plant near the airport the size of its Westmoreland County facility, it would be unable to do so because the land is not available.

As a result, he does not believe the various industrial park sites expected to come on line over the next few years will create a glut in the market. He said the demand should be there, and that each probably would find its own market niche.

"I'm not too concerned about overcapacity," he said.

The airport corridor always has been considered a desirable location, given its proximity to interstates and jet cargo and the availability of large tracts of land. What it has always lacked, he said, is water and sewer service.

With the Findlay Connector opening, the water and sewer lines being installed and the activity on airport property, "There's no reason to believe future development should not occur," he said.



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