Former steel mill brownfield site in Donora will be home to Airgas Inc., sewage authority pump station

Barbara Miller
Observer Reporter

Washington County Redevelopment Authority found buyers for two tracts of land in the 11-acre Donora Industrial Park, site of a former U.S. Steel plant, and officials announced Wednesday they expect to close in June.

Pitt Building LP of Pittsburgh intends to purchase six acres for $250,000 and construct 12,500 square feet of warehouse for a distribution center and 3,500 square feet of office space for Airgas Inc. of Radnor, Delaware County, which expects to employ 26 people.

Pitt Building’s investment in the property will be about $3 million, said William McGowen, executive director of the redevelopment authority.

According to its website, Airgas, through its subsidiaries, is one of the nation’s leading suppliers of industrial, medical and specialty gases and hard goods such as welding equipment and related products.

The firm produces atmospheric gases at 16 air-separation plants, and its products include carbon dioxide, dry ice and nitrous oxide. It supplies safety products and refrigerants, ammonia products and process chemicals. Approximately 17,000 associates work in more than 1,100 locations, including branches, retail stores, gas fill plants, specialty gas labs, production facilities and distribution centers.

McGowen said the redevelopment authority took the unusual step of contracting with a commercial real estate agent to market the properties.

The second new tenant in Donora Industrial Park will be the Mon Valley Sewage Authority, 20 South Washington St., Donora, which intends to purchase two acres for $100,000 to build a pump station for stormwater screening and treatment as part of a combined sewer overflow initiative that the state Department of Environmental Protection has mandated. The redevelopment authority did not have a timeline for the construction of the pump station.

The sewage authority serves about 2,000 customers in Donora and Carroll Township and 3,500 customers in Monessen in Westmoreland County.

Total investment in Donora Industrial Park for these two projects will be more than $4 million.

Federal tax dollars from the Environmental Protection Agency paid $60,000 for a brownfield assessment to determine what needed to be done to clean up the site. McGowen said gasoline and other petroleum products in the soil were the principal hazards.

The cost of cleanup was $50,000 from the Industrial Sites Reuse Program Fund made available through the state Department of Community and Economic Development, said Susan Morgan, brownfields and municipal planning manager for the redevelopment authority, which purchased the property from Middle Monongahela Industrial Development Association in the 1980s.

“In this case, since we’ve had it on the market for a long period of time, we actually contacted CBRE,” a Pittsburgh commercial real estate company, to help market the site, McGowen said, “which we normally don’t do, but in this case, it was on the market for quite a while and we wanted to try to move it. They brought us the client.”

The agent will receive a commission for the sale.

Three acres in the park remain on the market.