Regional Industrial Development Corp. & Franjo Construction Corp. - East Shop Renovation

It’s been almost 25 years since the Regional Industrial Development Corp. (RIDC) purchased a large industrial site in East Pittsburgh, Pa. that is a former home to the Westinghouse Electric Corp. RIDC obtained the site, now named Keystone Commons, with the goal of redeveloping the 2-million-square-foot site into a world-class industrial facility.

With more than nine facilities and housing 41 companies, RIDC has continuously upgraded pieces of Keystone Commons to reach that goal.

Its most recent project is the renovation of the site’s East Shop. RIDC has been redeveloping this facility for the past two years and upgrades include a new roof, nine new overhead doors, environmental abatement of asbestos and lead paint and repainting the entire space.

“We purchased the site from Westinghouse more than 20 years ago and we have been renovating building by building,” President Don Smith says. “The East Shop is about 300,000 square feet with a mezzanine space, as well. We have been taking this particular space essentially from a very old industrial building into a brand new one, so it’s being completely redeveloped.”

The organization is now working on replacing the East Shop’s interior space, and it contracted Franjo Construction, a frequent contractor for RIDC, to finish the task. Other touches to bring the East Shop into the modern manufacturing era include improved lighting, better electrical distribution and new crane rails. A portion of the site has already been leased to Holtec, a manufacturer that has an existing presence on the site. By leasing another facility within Keystone Commons, the company can better control its operation.

“Holtec is a significant tenant on site, and their presence has allowed us to expand redevelopment efforts,” Smith says.

Smith predicts the facility will likely be divided into two sections and it’s not yet decided where Holtec will reside or who the second occupant will be, though it has a number of prospects. It will likely go to another manufacturer since it is equipped with high bays and crane space. Though plans are not final, Smith says the most probable solution is to divide the space into one-third on the northern side and two-thirds on the south side. The northern side is attached to another building called the crane shed, so both spaces will run about 200,000 square feet.

After construction is completed and leases are finalized, the next step is tailor each space to its occupant. “The envelope and remediation will be substantially complete within the next month or two,” Smith says. “So we are redeveloping pieces that will be done this summer and then we’ll build it out for a particular user.”

Part of a Larger Mission

Once the East Shop is completed, RIDC will continue its mission and move on to other improvements at Keystone Commons, including improvements to portals and entryways that will accommodate larger truck traffic, which will make the park even more attractive to manufacturers.

“After this, we have some more envelope improvements to the South Shop on the property,” Smith says. “We’ll also be working on improving the portals and entryways into the site to accommodate large truck traffic.”

RIDC, which is a private, nonprofit organization, was established in 1955 to foster new employment opportunities and to diversify the regional economy of southwestern Pennsylvania. RIDC focuses on real estate development activities, and the organization provides development, finance and leasing of new and redeveloped buildings – activities that enable the growth of businesses throughout the Pittsburgh region.

RIDC began discussions with Westinghouse Electric Corp. to purchase what is now called Keystone Commons in 1986. RIDC closed on the site in 1989 and it has worked to bring the 2.25-million-square-foot facility into the modern era, including several building redevelopments and perks such as a health club and café.

RIDC’s ultimate goal for the site was to provide economic growth to the region by redeveloping a world-class industrial facility, according to the organization. Rehabilitation of the property focused on specific buildings and the conversion of the overall complex into a multi-use urban industrial center. The site includes a number of multi-occupancy buildings owned and managed by RIDC for the benefit of both large and small industrial companies, as well as freestanding buildings for lease to specific industrial users seeking a good business environment.

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