Saturday, July 9, 2011

Huge warehouse proposed for former Bethlehem Steel Corp. land

"Liberty Property Trust proposes a 1.35 million-square-foot warehouse on Commerce Center Boulevard, the largest proposed reuse so far of former Bethlehem Steel Corp. land.

The company, which owns the 120,000-square-foot Liberty Center in Center City Bethlehem along with about 30 other commercial properties in the Lehigh Valley, submitted its plans Thursday for consideration before the Bethlehem Planning Commission.

The proposed warehouse is within Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII. LVIP President Kerry Wrobel said Liberty is working with numerous prospective tenants for the property.

Liberty’s plans call for an estimated 200 workers per shift, which could total up to 600 employees if the warehouse fits the typical round-the-clock model, Wrobel said. Actual employment numbers will depend on the tenant, he said.

Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan said four or five large companies are considering warehouse space at LVIP VII or the adjacent Majestic Realty Co. property. Callahan said an estimated 500 employees are expected to work in the proposed Liberty-owned warehouse.

“We’re confident we’re going to be able to move forward with a number of these over the next few years,” he said.

Bill Bumber, the senior project manager in Liberty’s Bethlehem office, did not return a call for comment on this project.

Liberty’s 107-acre lot is the largest lot subdivision so far of the 1,000-acre LVIP VII parcel, Wrobel said. The organization decided to subdivide such a large lot because officials felt a large use would generate more tax revenue than splitting up the land into smaller lots, he said. Wrobel said he has no tax estimates for the property.

Otherwise, LVIP VII so far has been split into smaller lots, such as space for the 62,000-square-foot Synchronoss Technologies building or the 115,000-square-foot Cigars International warehouse. In all, the organization has sold eight lots within LVIP VII, Wrobel said. The lots consist of 11 companies with a total of 2,500 employees, he said.

Liberty’s proposed warehouse is significantly larger than the first warehouse for which Majestic has approval on its land. In February, the company received approval for a 482,591-square-foot building for an unnamed data storage company.

Majestic owns 441 acres of former Bethlehem Steel land and plans to build more than 7 million square feet of industrial warehouses there."

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