Large portions of the former Bethlehem Steel property could be ready for major, private-sector investments in the next few years, thanks to relocating a short line rail line that services much of the land.
A complex multi-party agreement, with legal documents as thick as two Manhattan phone books, has cleared the way for the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to move ahead with long-stated plans of moving an existing South Buffalo Railway line back from its current location along the edges of Route 5 and deeper into the Bethlehem Steel property. The relocated line will open an estimated 400 acres of prime real estate and allow groups like the ECIDA and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise as well as commercial brokerage firms to market the property.
The Bethlehem Steel property has already landed one new tenant - Canadian-based Welded Tube Inc., that next year hopes to open a speciality steel making plant there next year that could employ as many as 125 workers.
"It took a lot of negotiations and it took a lot of parties to get everything on the table," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. "We not only got it done, but we are returning steelmaking to the Bethlehem property."
The site work is being handled by Zoldaz Construction, the lowest of seven bidders, while the rail work is being done by Syracuse-based Frank Tartaglia Inc., the lowest of six bidders.
All of the rail work should be completed by next fall.