LACKAWANNA, NY- Erie County officials announced on Tuesday that the county has closed on the first phase of the sale of the old Bethlehem Steel plant in Lackawanna. Erie County has purchased nearly 150 acres of the site for $5.5 million. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he hopes the sale will spur redevelopment, and that it will eventually be reborn as a high-tech, green industrial business park.

"Today we are turning a new page on the site's past and laying the groundwork for a brighter future for our community," Poloncarz said.

Some of the changes the county wants to make include:

  • Removing rail lines along route 5 to align them in a way that's more conducive for efficient rail service
  • Building an extension to allow more vehicular traffic onto the site, and allow businesses to more easily access route 5
  • Extending the shoreline trail along route 5 by 7,000 feet, to provide safe pedestrian and bicycle access from Lackawanna to Buffalo's Outer Harbor, and eventually Woodlawn beach.
  • Designing and constructing a net zero energy manufacturing building featuring over 80,000 of mixed use commercial space.

Ever since it closed in the 1980's, the Bethlehem Steel plant site off Route 5 in Lackawanna has been a decaying headache for Erie County and state officials as a true industrial brownfield on the lake shore.

Now the county is hoping to attract advanced manufacturing with commercial and industrial use of the cleaned up property as Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz puts it.

"It will transform what had been dead, desolate land for nearly 30 years and turn it into productive land that will generate taxes for the county, for the city of Lackawanna and more importantly jobs for the entire community," he said.

They still have lots to work on-site to move old rail lines, build a new public road, and install utilities for new businesses, but those projects will now start to pick up.

Poloncarz says they are already getting requests for information from businesses that might be interested in re-locating there in Lackawanna.

We also reached out to Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Syzmanski who said in February that the county's acquisition of the land might cost his city over 300,000 dollars in existing tax revenue. But Poloncarz claims new business will generate new revenue for the city.