Redevelopment work to begin soon at former Brockway Glass in Canton

Gideon Bradshaw
Observer Reporter

A developer making use of public funds in its plans expects to begin demolition of the former Brockway Glass plant in Canton Township within a month.

Tearing down the former plant, which closed decades ago, will allow Peters Township-based Crossgates Inc. to build a new 135,000-square-foot warehouse-style building in its place at the Hickory Street property.

Company President Ryan Schwotzer expects construction of the new light-industrial building to be completed a year after the start of demolition. There are no definite tenants for the new building yet, but he said there has been interest.

“We’ve been in contact with some potential (tenants), but there are no leases in place,” Schwotzer added.

Schwotzer was there on Thursday for a symbolic “groundbreaking” event, when various Crossgates leaders and local officials dipped shovels into an oblong piece of soil contained by sediment socks in the paved parking lot of the former plant.

Running Brooke II Associates – which is owned by Crossgates – bought the brownfield site in 2015 for a recorded price of $475,000. Its plans to redevelop the roughly 20-acre site have received significant help from public funds.

Crossgates’ plans also include site remediation. The developer prepared its plans with PVE Engineers in Allegheny County. Colliers Township company Jet Jack Inc. received the contract for demolition, grading and site utility work.

Last year, the developer received a $1.5 million grant from the state Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program. In March, state officials announced a total of $5 million in additional state funds – made up of a $2 million grant and another $3 million low-interest loan – for the Redevelopment Authority of Washington County to rebuild on the site.

Another $265,000 in public Local Share Account funds were earmarked for road construction there.

A company known as Hazel-Atlas Glass initially founded a plant at the site in 1907. Brockway later acquired it, but shut it down in the 1980s.

Bill McGowan, executive director of the redevelopment authority, praised the “public-private partnership” involved in the venture.

Canton Supervisor Tom Bodnovich, who met his wife when he’d just returned from Vietnam and was working at the plant during summer breaks from college, said he hoped the plant would offset what would be lost in the township when Ferro Corp. closes its 200-employee manufacturing plant in the township.

The company said in January it intended to do so late this year or early next year, and expected to save only about 50 jobs.

Bodnovich’s prediction was optimistic.

Schwotzer said he expects the new building to bring “around 100 to 150 jobs” to the township, based on the area of the new building and its intended use.

At any rate, Bodnovich counted the redevelopment of the former Brockway plant among several things he saw as positive for the township, including construction of the 140-house Brick Ridge Estates, a recently built new township building and plans for a social hall on a site near the park.

“This is part of the renaissance of Canton,” Bodnovich said.