BURGETTSTOWN - Already nearing capacity with two more companies close to signing leases, work has begun on Starpointe Business Park's Phase II development.
The expansion will add about 100 usable acres to Starpointe's development footprint, broker Sally Flynn says.
With a price tag of about $11 million - $8 million for site preparation and another $3 million for utilities and infrastructure - Flinn, a principal in Pittsburgh-based Fourth River Development, says they're looking to attract companies that need larger spaces.
"We actually have a conceptual master plan for (Phase II) that illustrates larger spaces," said Flinn, who oversees day-to-day management of the park's development and leasing. "In the past, we've had inquiries from possible users with those size needs and we've not been able to meet them. That's why we designed a grading plan that will make us more competitive in the marketplace."
Flinn says Phase II envisions larger parcels of 10-40 acres, though they have the flexibility to subdivide it into smaller spaces if a prospect needs less. To make it happen, she said crews will have to move more than 3 million cubic yards of dirt. That part of the job should be done around Dec. 1, she said.
Once the site preparation is done, "then we need to put utilities and infrastructure in place," Flinn said. "It will be early- to mid-2013 before we have the road and utilities there for people to actually access the site."
Still, Flinn said, there's a great sense of excitement.
"There's a lot going on," she said. "We're seeing a lot of interest from the oil and gas industry, a lot from manufacturers."
Flinn said Phase I, which encompassed 148 acres, featured 12 pad-ready parcels, six of which are occupied or have buildings on them. "We're negotiating sales agreements on two others, so there's not much left," she said.
While she cannot offer details, Flinn did say one of the prospective tenants is in the oil and gas industry, the other is an international manufacturing client in no way related to the oil and gas boom.
"What is also helping market the park is the regional sewer project in Hanover township," she said. "There'd been a perception in the marketplace that we had treatment tanks and capacity issues, a negative vibe, but we've been proactive in planning, as has the park owner, in designing infrastructure for future connection into the regional plan.
"We knew this was coming. It's taken six or seven years for the sewer project to come to fruition, to actually come to construction, but, because we were part of the design and had regular meetings with the township, the water and sewer lines are sized for future buildout of the park."
Although conceding the process has been "challenging," she said county officials are hoping the park's expansion "continues to spur development in Hanover and Smith townships."
"But you can understand, it's expensive," she added. "Residents have to pay tap-in fees. But DEP reported in the ordinance that more than 60 percent of the septic systems in the area were failing."
Flinn said they were able to secure low-interest loans through Pennworks to help residents hard hit by the costs.
"I think part of the attraction is its proximity to Utica shale as well as the Marcellus shale," she said, noting that the oil and gas drilling boom, coupled with a general turnaround in the economy, sparked the growth.