Beaver County will be starting some major development projects over the next year. There has been an upswing in commercial real estate sold, and there will be more properties developing over the next few years. Keep reading or click here to learn more about Beaver County.
Beaver County developer Chuck Betters may be under more confidentiality agreements than he can count, but, he could still tell a crowd gathered at Community College of Beaver County about his optimism regarding redevelopment potential of the county.
“I can tell you this, all hell is about to break loose,” he said, noting that he has option agreements with three to four different companies that are all waiting on a decision from Royal Dutch Shell on whether it will build a petrochemical facility in Potter and Center townships.
Betters and other Beaver County leaders were on hand Thursday afternoon to discuss the activity going on in the region in the kick-off for this year’s Corridors of Opportunity event series held by the Pittsburgh Business Times.
This was the first of four events to be held focusing on a county in southwestern Pennsylvania. Future events will look at Washington, Butler and Westmoreland counties. There is complete coverage on Beaver County in the March 22 edition of the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Betters acknowledged that early on Shell was evaluating his property in Aliquippa for the potential ethane cracker before settling on Horsehead’s property as the preferred site and that he was actually relieved his property didn’t make the cut. He is focusing on potential midstream projects.
Though Shell’s final decision still hasn’t been made, Betters and other speakers said there is too much happening surrounding natural gas development in the region for the petrochemical industry not to come to town.
This will lead to rising demand in housing he said and he hopes the county will be able to meet the challenges that an influx of people might bring.
Ed Rae, founder and president of Re/MAX Select Realty said in the last 18 to 24 months he has seen an uptick in activity in his real estate offices. Business was benefiting from the large office developments of Cranberry Woods in nearby Butler County and Southpointe in Washington County but he told the more than 300 gathered at the event that he saw major potential for further demand if there is development of the petrochemical industry.
“I do think we could be sitting on a boom town like we have never seen,” he said.
However, he and others noted that to reach this full potential the county will have to address issues such as creating ammenities to draw in young people and families, building up education infrastructure and adjusting the tax base.
Pat Nardelli, partner at Castlebrook Development agreed with Betters and Rae and added that the reason the county is able to hold these discussions is based on the cooperation within communities.
He noted that even without the potential cracker projects are already underway. He pointed to the successful $20 million sale of a 410,000 square foot spec building in Big Beaver Falls earlier this month and progress on various hospitality projects throughout the county.
“Beaver County has arrived,” he said, though he added it has been a hard sell to get recognition from national lenders. Both Nardelli and Rae said the lending industry will be a major factor in how future developments come online.
Development that comes through increased natural gas activity or the introduction of the petrochemical industry will also require a robust pipeline of workers and Joe Forrester, president of Community College of Beaver County told the crowd he and the region’s other community colleges are working together to ensure the talent will be there.
Specific to the potential petrochemical industry, CCBC is launching an industrial maintenance program in April that is designed so that other related programs can be added. Plus, he noted the school is developing process technician and management degrees that can be used by existing companies such as Nova Chemical and BASF.
Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, who gave Thursday’s keynote speech, said the downstream development will be biggest opportunity for Beaver County.
It’s an opportunity to attract back large energy consuming companies. But to do this, the region must work together, he said, adding that the conference has been working with local leader to attract industry.