Developer gets $1M to proceed with long-dormant Cool Valley project

Rick Shrum
Observer Reporter

Cool Valley may be heating up – finally.

The project, a mixed-use industrial and commercial park planned for Cecil Township, was proposed in the spring of 2010. But it has never gotten started. There have been snags in developing the location – between Interstate 79 and Morganza Road, near Southpointe. Funding traffic improvements has been a major difficulty.

Development of the site, as a result, has lain dormant for eight-plus years. But that may change.

The office of Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday T&R Properties Inc. has been awarded a $1 million grant to begin construction. Phase one, according to a news release from Wolf, will feature development of about 250 acres of pad-ready sites within 21 months. Work will include excavating, grading and installation of basic infrastructure (water, gas, electricity, roads).

This project, according to a news release from Wolf’s office, “is expected to result in as much as 3 million square feet of office and flex building space ... and the creation of thousands of jobs.”

Funding for Cool Valley comes from Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

Dublin, Ohio-based T&R Properties owns the 650 or so acres of the proposed park. The company did not return multiple phone calls from the Observer-Reporter.

Bill Sember, however, said the beginning “of construction is not imminent.” Sember is the director of operations for the Washington County Authority, which has worked with T&R on this project. He said “traffic improvements, having better traffic flow, have to be made first. It’s a question of how you fund them all.”

Foremost among those improvements, Sember added, would involve work at Morganza and Lewicke roads, “which could be near.”

Cecil, according to the governor’s news release, has received $2.8 million to improve that intersection.

Wolf said in a prepared statement: “I’m pleased to announce this funding to begin the work necessary for a project that will culminate in space to accommodate new and existing businesses and the growing gas, coal and energy industries in Southwest Pennsylvania. In addition, the potential for thousands of new jobs exists and is a welcome sign for this region’s economy.”

State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll Township, believes Cool Valley is cool. She said in a statement: “This project has tremendous potential to expand economic growth and job opportunities to not only our region, but throughout the commonwealth. Specifically, the grant will be used to develop a mixed-use business park, which upon completion will offer office and retail space, warehouses, hotel accommodations and even a medical center.”

State Rep. Jason Ortitay, R-Cecil, likewise gave the project the thumb’s-up. “With Southpointe almost to capacity, the Cool Valley development project will allow for additional space for business growth. It also includes a residential component, which will allow those who are interested to live and work in the same community, thus reducing commute times. I look forward to this project moving forward quickly.”