Quiet Hearing on the Cracker

Yesterday was the public hearing on the DEP air pollution control permit for the Shell ethane cracker in Monaca. During my research on the cracker for the May/June BreakingGround, I spoke to a couple of people who noted the timetable for the DEP process and predicted that the permit was a fait accompli. Both said the hearing might have some bluster from opponents but that the DEP would grant the permit, and probably soon.

Those first predictions came true. There was, in fact, little opposition to the permit and surprising support (which is unusual in such hearings). The lack of public comment against the project was newsworthy, as the papers found little to write about it (although the Business Times was able to put a negative spin on it). Comments will be accepted by DEP until next Friday, May 15, after which the decision will occur.

In other development news, the announcement of JLL as the developer/representative coincided with the release of an RFQ for the first office building (sort of CIC2) and a hotel along Forbes Avenue. The request drew responses from 13 developers, including out-of-town entities like Clayco and Davis Companies that are already working in Pittsburgh. Among the seven local firms that responded were Elmhurst, Oxford, Mosites and Walnut Capital – all companies with projects ongoing in the Oakland/Shadyside market. The expectation is that construction will begin before the year ends.

In project news, Al Neyer Inc. started work on the new 86,000 sq. ft. refrigerated warehouse and office for Paragon Foods in Thorn Hill Industrial Park. Shannon Construction was successful in the Cabot Oil & Gas fit-out of 56,000 sq. ft. at 2000 Park Lane. PJ Dick is about to start work on the $14 million Penn Highland Building, a 78-unit new apartment project for Walnut Capital in East Liberty.

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