It would be nice to save some of the older brick industrial structures, but the site has really been a hindrance for further bayfront development around the convention center. I'm pretty sure they'll just knock everything down. rather than incorporating some the industrial structures into the new developmnet plans.
PUBLISHED: MAY 03. 2010 1:15AM
GAF looks at demolishing former plant on Erie's bayfront
Company makes official inquiries
By ED PALATTELLA
The largest undeveloped site on Erie's bayfront soon could be transformed from an empty shingle factory to a vacant lot.
Contractors with GAF Building Materials Corp. have made initial contacts with City Hall about demolishing the former plant, according to the city's Bureau of Code Enforcement as well as a local lawyer.
The city has been in negotiations with New Jersey-based GAF over buying the 12.5-acre site since shortly after GAF closed the plant in 2007. It is unclear how the prospective demolition would affect the talks with the city over the site, which is just west of the Bayfront Convention Center.
The Bureau of Code Enforcement had no demolition permit for the GAF site on file as of Friday. A backhoe was parked on the site over the weekend, but it was unclear whether contractors were preparing to raze the former factory.
A worker in the Bureau of Code Enforcement said the inquiries about the demolition came about a week ago, with the questions focusing on the cost of a demolition permit.
Roger Richards, a local lawyer working with the city on the GAF negotiations, said he had been aware that GAF has been inquiring about tearing down the buildings that make up the plant. County assessment records show one of the structures, a warehouse, was built in 1903.
The Bureau of Code Enforcement referred the contractors' inquiries to Mayor Joe Sinnott, who has personally handled the GAF project. Officials and workers in the bureau declined to comment and also referred all questions from the Erie Times-News to Sinnott, who was unavailable for comment on Friday.
Sinnott formed a committee to help negotiate with GAF. Richards, who is on the committee, said he could not provide details about the prospective demolition or any other information on the GAF site.
He said a confidentiality agreement between GAF and the city prohibits him from discussing the future of the site. A real estate official with GAF did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. GAF has not previously commented on the site, though the company in 2008 notified the state Department of Environmental Protection that it intends to monitor and clean up any environmental problems on the site.
The property remains for sale, though Sinnott, in an interview in July, said GAF had agreed to work exclusively with the city over the future of the property. Sinnott at the time said GAF had been following the agreement, which he also said is not binding. He said GAF was free to sell the site on the open market.
In another interview, in January, Sinnott said the confidentiality agreement barred him from commenting on what he characterized as the city's ongoing negotiations with GAF. Consultants working on behalf of the city have already reviewed the GAF site to determine what would be needed to develop it.
The city, Sinnott said in January, has been working with GAF to map out "the best route to get those things done, and get (the property) to whoever is going to be the ultimate developer."
Sinnott also said work on the project had "moved along considerably" in 2009.
"If the past 10 months are any indication, we should have real answers to what's going to happen to that property in the future," Sinnott said in January.
The site went up for sale after GAF closed the shingle factory in March 2007 to consolidate its Pennsylvania operations at a newer plant, near Allentown.
The closing cost the region 160 jobs, and idled the factory at a time when the bayfront had started to buzz with activity. The Convention Center opened in August 2007, and the Sheraton hotel next to the Convention Center opened in April 2008. The project represented an investment of more than $100 million in the development of the bayfront.
The next piece of development, for the Sinnott administration, is the GAF site.
"The bayfront needs a development to pull all of the individual developments together, and this is our opportunity," Sinnott said in 2008.
"I think the opportunity here is the driving force."
About the GAF site
- Location: Off the Bayfront Parkway, just west of the Bayfront Convention Center.
- History: The original plant was built in 1885. GAF bought the site in 1967, and closed the shingle factory on the site in March 2007.
- Acreage: 12.5 acres. Three parcels make up the site: 11.388 acres, 0.706 acres, 0.365 acres.
- Zoning: Waterfront commercial.
- Buildings: The site includes four structures, built in 1903, 1910, 1980 and 1990. The square footage is 30,340, 86,829, 30,000 and 2,500, respectively, for a total of 149,669.
- Value: Land assessed at $493,500, buildings assessed at $735,500. Total assessment: $ 1,229,000.
- Taxes: Total property tax bill of $40,300.21 this year. Of that, $7,053.10 goes to Erie County, $13,348.42 to the city and $19,898.69 to the Erie School District.
Source: Erie County assessment records, Erie Times-News archives
PUBLISHED: MAY 04. 2010 3:48PM
Demolition of Erie GAF plant would take months
The demolition of the former GAF shingle factory on Erie's bayfront is expected to take all summer -- if the demolition occurs.
The state Department of Environmental Resources has received notice that the demolition could start as early as Wednesday and could last until September, a DEP spokeswoman said.
GAF Building Materials Corp., based in New Jersey, appears to have all the paperwork in order for the demolition -- except for a demolition permit from City Hall.
The city's Bureau of Code Enforcement said today it still has no permit on file for the razing of the former plant just west of the Bayfront Convention Center. Bureau workers more than a week ago received inquiries from contractors about a demolition permit, the Erie Times-News reported on Monday.
Mayor Joe Sinnott has been unavailable for comment on GAF's plans. Sinnott has been in negotiations with GAF about the city purchasing the 12.5-acre site, which GAF closed as a factory in 2007.