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Matthew Bupp envisions 'synergistic' uses, hydro power at paper mill property

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Developer Matthew Bupp, center, shows Paul Nachias, left, director of environmental services for Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc., and Ken Kirkpatrick, president of KLK Welding Inc., a model of a water wheel. Bupp is exploring the potential for hydroelectric power generation as part of the redevelopment of the paper mill property, in the background, that is adjacent to the confluence of Codorus and Mill creeks in York County.
Developer Matthew Bupp, center, shows Paul Nachias, left, director of environmental services for Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc., and Ken Kirkpatrick, president of KLK Welding Inc., a model of a water wheel. Bupp is exploring the potential for hydroelectric power generation as part of the redevelopment of the paper mill property, in the background, that is adjacent to the confluence of Codorus and Mill creeks in York County. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

The developer who bought and then eventually sold the former Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. property in York County is renovating another industrial property in the county as a mini business park.

Matthew Bupp and a partner acquired the paper mill property known under the Yorktowne name on Loucks Mill Road, with land in Spring Garden and Springettsbury townships, in January for about $1 million, he said.

The buildings flank the road at the site between Route 30, just to the north, and Interstate 83 to the south with a mix of manufacturing, warehousing and office space near the Codorus Creek, Bupp said.

He said York has been going through an identity crisis lately because so many large manufacturers have either decided to leave or have reduced the size of their operations considerably.

"All of that needs to be replaced with a buffet of other things," he said.

The heritage and workers are still here, Bupp said, and it just makes sense to redevelop an existing property because it has solid construction and a great location.

"This little road is like the industrial boulevard into the city," he said.

Location and vocations

Tenants already at the Loucks Mill Road site include KLK Welding Inc.

KLK recently expanded to the Spring Garden Township space in addition to its operations at the Penn Township Industrial Park near Hanover, President Ken Kirkpatrick said.

The Loucks Mill Road facility is near KLK's York-area clients, he said. Kirkpatrick now runs the York-area operations, and Rose Kirkpatrick, director of the business, runs the Hanover-area operations, he said.

Kirkpatrick and Bupp also want to bring a welding school to the site so people can learn the skills to work for KLK and others.

The demand for his company's work is there, but it's hard to find the right employees who can weld the way KLK needs them to, Kirkpatrick said.

He and Bupp were introduced by their accountants at the same firm. KLK started operations at the former paper mill property earlier this fall and is using about 13,000 square feet of space, Kirkpatrick said.

Having a welding business, and planning a welding program, on the property is just the tip of the iceberg for the "synergistic" potential for the site, said Bupp, of York County-based Lenders Group.

Office space could be used by engineers whose clients are manufacturing tenants just down the stairs, he said. Bupp also said he has been talking with government officials about establishing a business incubator.

Adaptive reuse plans at the mill property include some of the paper-making equipment itself, said Bupp, who has been working to bring in a client who could use the large blender equipment on-site.

"I didn't want to throw the stuff out. It all works," Bupp said, later adding, "I think one man's trash is another man's treasure."

Still, Bupp said, he and partners are different because of the degree of projects they take on. They're like firefighters, because they run into buildings no one else wants to enter, he said.

Hydro power?

The complete-package plans for the mini business park in York County extend to the idea of generating on-site electricity.

Bupp and Voith Hydro Inc. in York County started discussing the possibility of hydro power at the mill site starting this summer, said Jeremy Smith, sales manager for strategic projects.

The technology under consideration is called the StreamDiver, Smith said.

Voith Hydro is part of the German firm Voith GmbH, and the pilot for the StreamDiver is in Austria, he said. The product is designed to produce power without a large impoundment of water or installing large turbines, Smith said.

"The equipment we have is specifically more of a drop-in-place, plug-and-play type of alternative," he said. "The real focus is minimizing the civil engineering and civil construction costs."

At this preliminary juncture, the StreamDiver appears to be the best option for the site, he said.

Hydro projects historically have taken up to several years to get through permitting and licensing, he said. However, recent federal legislation has targeted streamlined processes for small hydro projects.

A StreamDiver in York County also would be beneficial for demonstration purposes for Voith customers, he said.

Electricity generation actually was one of the considered uses for the Smurfit-Stone site when Bupp and his partners bought the acreage along the city's southwestern border with Spring Garden Township, he said.

With the neighborhood populated with the likes of York College, WellSpan Health's York Hospital, the former York International that became part of Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc., and York-based Dentsply International Inc., Bupp asked, how could they go wrong with acquiring that property?

Eventually, expectations were realized when they sold the site to the college, Bupp said.

The paper mill property near the northeast corner of the city is much cleaner from an environmental standpoint, Bupp said.

Several hundred thousand dollars' worth of work is going into the current project, he said.

Paper mill property

A former paper mill property on Loucks Mill Road in York County is under renovation after developer Matthew Bupp acquired the site in a partnership earlier this year. In addition to the Spring Garden Township mill complex, parcels were posted as available just to the north in Springettsbury Township and south of the mill in Spring Garden Township.

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey

Brent Burkey covers York County, agribusiness, energy and environment, and workforce issues. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at brentb@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

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