There is plenty of buildable commercial land in Lebanon County available, and county officials are happy to show it.
The Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corp. recently organized a bus tour for developers, county officials and business representatives to get a first-hand peek at the properties.
Here are some property highlights from the tour of about 25 available sites:
Location: Along the westbound lanes of Route 22, Bethel Township
What's there now: Empty lots
Lot size: Three lots totaling about 140 acres
Zoned: Highway industrial
The good: The crown jewel of the property is a proposed 1.1-million-square-foot distribution facility on 109 acres that is "shovel ready," according to Jason Webb, vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle in Lower Allen Township. The building plan has township and state approvals, including a highway occupancy permit, and is ready to be built with spaces for 340 trailers and more than 1,000 cars. The site is a one of three finalists for a company seeking to move there and bring about 1,200 jobs, according to property officials. Even if it sells, the distribution center has two adjacent lots — a 12.8-acre lot and a lot of more than 19 acres that includes a proposed 202,500-square-foot distribution facility. The facility is on Route 22, with four-lane highway access to Interstate 78.
The drawbacks: It's been on the market for three years, Webb said, with "steady and significant" interest, but hasn't sold yet. "Sometimes, the locations aren't a fit for everybody, but we think it's a strong fit for a wide swath of tenant," he said. The smaller, adjacent lots do not have local or state approvals for building plans yet.
Price: Negotiable, according to Webb.
Location: 16th and Cumberland streets, West Lebanon Township
What's there now: Vacant lot
Lot size: 6.3 acres
Zoned: Commercial on all four subdivided parcels
The good: Near downtown location in heavy traffic area of Route 422. Property owner and well-known Lebanon businessman and philanthropist Frank Dixon bought it in 2008 and said Walgreens originally agreed to build a store there but later changed its plans. There is room on the property to build four free-standing businesses, he said.
The drawbacks: It's not available to just anyone. Dixon said there has been steady interest on the property, but he's waiting for something to materialize that will be a fit for the Lebanon area. He said there is no intention to build a strip mall. "We want to do what's right for the community," he said. "We can be patient."
Price: Differs for each of the four parcels, Dixon said.
Location: Lehman Street, Lebanon
What's there now: Empty lot
Lot square footage: 45 acres, subdividable
Zoned: Manufacturing light
The good: The city, county and Lebanon School District all approved a 10-year extension of the Keystone Opportunity Zone status for the property, county officials said. The current KOZ status is set to expire at the end of the year, but the local taxing bodies wanted to keep the land attractive. Now it's waiting for the state's approval. There's history there, as the site dates to Civil War times when workers made ammunition to support the North, according to one of the land's co-owners, George Christianson of Aspens Inc. Until the 1980s, it was a manufacturing site for Bethlehem Steel, he said. The road, water, sewer and gas lines have already been built to service the land.
The drawbacks: The lot must almost certainly be subdivided since it's naturally divided by two roads, so the largest site is about 16 acres, Christianson said. It's 8 miles of two-lane roads to interstates 78 and 81.
Price: About $40,000 per acre, depending on the piece of property, Christianson said.
Location: Piper Circle, South Londonderry Township
What's there now: Empty lot (build to suit)
Lot size: 29,600 square feet
Zoned: Industrial commercial
The good: Flightpath Park has boomed over the last few years, and the growth isn't over. Three new businesses intend to open there within the next year, and another opened in mid-September. Other, tentative plans include a hotel, a larger parking area and an additional restaurant. There are other light industrial companies among the park's occupants.
The drawbacks: The growth isn't exactly the kind of growth traditional industrial customers might be looking for. The most recent growth has come from businesses relating to youth sports and activities, like a hockey rink, a bounce-house facility, a family restaurant and the growth of the In the Net soccer complex. A basketball training facility is under construction and plans to open in 2014, as is the temporary home of the Palmyra Public Library.
Price: Available for lease for $236,800 ($8 per square foot)