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Knox Industrial Park Still Looking for First Tenant After 22 Years

Thursday, January 21, 2021 @ 12:01 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

imgonline-com-ua-frameblurred-5l22xnhdbdocwloBEAVER TWP., Pa. (EYT) – The Clarion County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) has developed the 67-acre Beaver Township Industrial Park for 22 years and is still hoping to attract industries to the site.

(Pictured: Knox Borough Council President Jack Bish reviews the Knox Borough “Bibles” of Water and Sewage activities related to the Beaver Township Economic Development Park.

In 2012, CCEDC came within hours of a sale to a large company for 50 acres bringing over 300 jobs, according to CCEDC. A sales agreement was signed by CCEDC and overnighted to be signed when the gas industry changed, and it was canceled.

Due to confidentiality, CCEDC could not say more but indicated that it has had many interested parties over the years. Nevertheless, the 2012 event was the closest it came to a sale.


“Currently, we have had several potential prospects for the park, including James Hunt,” said Bill Henry, a member of the CCEDC Board and an owner of Burford & Henry Real Estate Services.

Henry provided a quote from Hunt.

“Our group identified Clarion County as a potential site,” said Hunt. “Clarion County is centrally located within a five-hour drive of 84 million people, including many cities such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toronto, Buffalo, New York City, Albany, Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia, (and) Cincinnati.

“Our target was to create a destination in Clarion County. A destination promoting tourism in the area. The Knox property is a beautiful piece of land and has the opportunity for expansion or future development.”

Jason Hansford, CCEDC President, said, “the property in Knox could be a great opportunity, mostly if someone wanted to take advantage of the available New Market Tax Credits.”

Milissa Bauer, CCEDC Secretary/Treasurer, verified the property qualifies for the New Market Tax Credits, extended in the December 27, 2020 COVID bill.

CCEDC answered the following questions about the site:

When and how was the property purchased?

The property was purchased from George Bunch for $75,400.00 on October 29, 1999.

Why was the site never developed?

Development of the site started almost immediately after purchase and continued through 2008 when the electricity was upgraded.

Is it for sale through a real estate company?

It was first professionally marketed in 2008, through NAI, a commercial Brokerage from Pittsburgh and listed locally in 2015 with Burford & Henry Real Estate Services. Burford & Henry partnered with Hanna Langholtz, Wilson Ellis, a Commercial Broker in Pittsburgh in 2018, and is currently partnering with Cushman Wakefield from Pittsburgh.

It is listed as multiple parcels, and here is a link to the entire property:

A chronological list of events related to the property:

1999: Purchased the property from George Bunch

2001: An environmental study of the property was completed.

2003: Waterline installed from the 500,000-gallon tank at the original Knox Park.
Sewer line and a sewage lift station installed from the site to Knox Borough
16” water line 3” forced main sewer line.

2005: Sharp Shopper was connected to the water and sewer lines passed by their property. This was allowed since they were expanding and building their new store and providing jobs in the county.

2006: Development continued at the site. A stormwater management plan was completed for the entire site and made approximately 20 acres shovel ready for a business to come in. This included installing sewer lines to the lift station, paving Kribbs Road, removing trees and leveling the 20 acres, and installing a stormwater pond with ditches to drain the water to the pond.

2007: A medium pressure gas line was brought to the park from Wentling Corners.

2008: Three-phase electricity was brought to the park from the Sharp Shopper corner, with the right of ways obtained back to the original Knox Park.

This was expected to be a good time to market the location, but the possible tolling of I-80 came into play and interest slowed.

2008 to 2009: Property was listed with a commercial broker out of Pittsburgh.

2014: Transferred the sewage lift station and all sewer lines to Beaver Township authority, saving them money in taking sewage to Exit 53 and Wentling Corners.

2015: Listed the property with Burford & Henry Real Estate Services.

2018: Burford & Henry co-listed the property with Hanna Langholtz, Wilson Ellis.

2019: Burford & Henry co-listed the property with Cushman Wakefield, which and continues to market the property.

Water Questions

The CCEDC installed approximately 8,600 feet of 16-inch waterline, a 3-inch sanitary force main, and constructed a sewage pumping facility for the industrial park. The size of the pipe was apparently recommended to supply a sufficient supply of water for suppression of fire at an industrial site. Size does matter and the caused problems in the delivery of potable water.

The CCEDC had an agreement with the Knox Borough water department granting the CCEDC industrial park usage of 4,000 gallons per day from the Knox Borough water system.

According to an August 20, 2003 letter from Gwin, Dobson, and Foreman Inc. (GDF): “The tank is fed by the pump station in approximately 1,900 feet of 6-inch PVC waterline. The tank controls are located within the pump station that is located on Heeter Road in Knox. The gauge for the light tank is located adjacent to the tank site. The tank water level is controlled manually and monitored twice weekly. Water pumps to the tank as needed and is overflowed monthly because of very low turnover. The tank is currently used by one customer (Castle Housing) and approximately 1,000 gallons per day. Because of the low water usage from the tank, the water is deemed non-potable per PADEP. GDF was informed that Castle Housing utilizes a personal UV treatment system to provide the facility with potable water.

“The CCEDC wished to provide potable water for their industrial park, and when GDF evaluated the existing system, they provided the following information recommendation and conclusions:

“Because of the volume of water in the existing storage tank approximately 500,000 gallons, and a volume of water stored within 16-inch pipeline approximately 100,000 gallons that feeds the industrial park, and the fact that the existing usage from the tank is only 1,000 gallons per day and the proposed usage for the industrial park is limited to 4,000 gallons per day maximum, the water supplying the park is non-potable and should be considered for fire prevention only. The required water turnover per day to maintain a possible system, without secondary treatment, is approximately 40,000 to 50,000 gallons. As the system operates currently, whether it is from the storage tank, it takes approximately 20 days to travel to the industrial park, considering travel time, what are usage rates, and the very low turnover, the water cannot be treated without it becoming stagnant again.”

GDF provided the following recommendations and observations:

• Provide non-potable water to the site as shown on drawings for fire protection purposes. Each light will have a water service connection for future service lateral installation.

• The system will be considered a non-community system by PA DEP; therefore, treatment would be provided by each potential tenant. Treatment can be achieved through the following processes coronation or ultraviolet irradiation UV:

• As an alternative to individual treatment systems provided by each tenant, potential tenants could use bottled water as a source of drinking water.

• The non-potable water could be used for toilet flushing, but it is still not recommended for handwashing, showers, etc. However, this does not appear to be a practical approach. Also, it is not practical to treat the 4,000 gallons of water to distribute to the individual lots. A much higher volume of daily water usage would be needed to justify an on-site public water treatment facility. A storage tank would be required, prompting daily operation and maintenance.

• Therefore, the water supply to the industrial park should be used as fire protection and individual tenants should provide their own treatment or use bottled water.

An August 1, 2007 memo from CCEDC Director Brad Ehrhart came up with the same conclusions.

“The pipe is $22,900.00,” wrote Ehrhart. “As far as our guesstimate for a turn-key slip line for 8,000 linear feet of 3-inch DR 21, based on the slip line budget proposal, I would say that a $60-$70 per linear foot or a $500,000.00 to $600,000.00 project estimate would be close.”

The slip line would be inserted into the 16 existing 16-inch pipe to send potable water.

“This idea is beyond our means, so we will have to come up with new ideas,” continued Ehrhart.

Alternatives were listed in the 2003 GDF letter, basically requiring the individual businesses to come up with their own alternatives, similar to the other businesses still connected – Smart Shopper and Swartfager Welding.

Jack Bish, President of Knox Borough Council, was first elected to Borough Council when the project was launched. Knox Borough is responsible for the operation of its water and sewage plant. He remembers the problems with the installation of the large waterline and the restrictions placed by DEP.

“Enough water for fire suppression may have been required that they had to have a pipe that big — there’s no way you could keep our chlorine in the water to satisfy their DEP’s agreement,” said Bish.

“They might have got away with it, but to keep so much water in that tank, you had to circulate it. We pump 500,000 gallons of water into the tank. The usage keeps turning it over so that we always have chlorine in it, and that went into the big pipe.

“When it’s not being used, the chlorine dissipates, and then it turns black and nasty and stinky.”

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