The first of what David Layman hopes will be many ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the former Bethlehem Steel axle plant took place on Tuesday morning.
Layman, a Richland Township resident, recently purchased the land, located at 100 Iron St. in Johnstown from Dallas-based Trinity Industries Inc. He has turned the property, which has been dormant since 2007, into Cambria Industrial Development Park. The goal is to soon start attracting other businesses to the site that is zoned for heavy industry use.
“The reason we’re here today is to hopefully announce the reversal of the trend in Johnstown industrial properties,” Layman said. “Everyone from Johnstown knows it’s been a trend of jobs shutdown, job loss, facility shutdown, facility demolition. Today, we’re going to change that by making these buildings and this property available for industrial redevelopment.”
The new owner already has talked to several manufacturing firms about the possibility of locating to the industrial complex and beginning what he sees as a possible long period of growth.
“I can’t wait to see what this looks like a few years from now,” said state Sen. John Wozniak, D-Westmont, one of the dignitaries at the event.
Layman purchased the property for what he described as in excess of six figures. The entire project is being privately funded with help from AmeriServ Financial. Several of the politicians on hand complimented Layman for investing in the community.
“I really applaud the risk-takers, like Dave, out there, who are willing to put themselves on the line and look for opportunities right here in Johnstown,” said U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley. Cambria County Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder added, “He’s not taking the easy road, which would be to basically scrap the complex. But, instead, he wanted to invest in his town, his community, his county. That’s great news for us.”
CID Park is located at what used to be an important facility in Bethlehem Steel’s overall local operations.
“It is my sincere wish that CID can pick up where Bethlehem left off,” said Johnstown Mayor Tom Trigona.
Cambria Industrial Development LLC employs six individuals. CID Park could support 400 to 500 jobs, according to Layman.
“It’s all about creating jobs and developing the economy,” said Layman.
The park sits on 10.423 acres. There are eight buildings, measuring 173,086 square feet combined, along with approximately 90,000 square feet of outside storage area. Layman does not plan to demolish any of the structures. The infrastructure includes natural gas, industrial and potable water, and a Lehigh Valley Rail Management short-line railroad. Seven of the structures have overhead cranes.
Layman is looking at how a planned nearby industrial wastewater treatment facility, operated by Aspen Johnstown LLC, could possibly mesh with his industrial park.
Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.