In Beaver Falls, a history of heavy industry located along the city’s railroad corridors and waterways has left behind areas of sparsely occupied industrial sites in prime neighborhoods of the city. These sites include a mix of vacant and partially vacant properties that were once home to a variety of industrial anchor businesses. Among the former industrial businesses were manufacturers of steel, firearms, shovels, porcelain, amusement park rides, and other finished and unfinished goods. The sites where these businesses served as the backbone of Beaver Falls’ economy in the first half of the twentieth century are among those in the city that today could benefit the most from brownfield assessment and reuse planning. The lower area of the city is a prominent and accessible location that has experienced a significant amount of disinvestment with the closing of many of the major legacy industrial businesses. The city identified this area with Beaver County as an area of high importance for creative new investment to attract modern and emerging businesses to the region and the community.
The Lower Beaver Falls Brownfields Targeted Area-Wide Plan recognizes undeveloped or unused properties as an untapped resource. Measures to retain occupancy and greatly increase utilization of vacant industrial properties, with an emphasis on job creation. The plan focuses on infrastructure improvements as the primary way to stimulate private sector interest in redevelopment. Strategic brownfields reuse through a public-private partnership, would focus on incubating new business in the area. Property owner and stakeholder engagement was especially important in the development of the plan and will be critical to achieve the reuse vision. Key recommendations include:
- Establish 4th Street and 5th Street as the Southern Gateway – This approach into Lower Beaver Falls requires strategic streetscaping and branding element, signifying the focus on new investment and to attract new investment.
- The Creation of Maker-Space Incubator – This facility should be located on a series of smaller brownfield sites along 7th Avenue. It would serve as a linked facility with nearby Geneva College as co-working facility tied to the school’s engineering department. This form of partnership has already been established in the city’s downtown with the Beehive, a similar technology incubator center.
- Strategic Residential and Recreation Infill – Develop 1st Avenue as a transition zone with mixed residential and recreational uses centered on the existing Beaver River Trail.
- Establish 11th Street as a Multimodal Connector – Improvements along this corridor would create a vital connection between 7th Avenue and the Beaver Riverfront.