Any new build is a victory in and of itself. But as Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP) continues its transformation of a former energy refinery in Southwest Philadelphia and a former power plant in South Boston, it’s a win for both the company and for the locations that have undergone extensive environmental remediation.
After Hilco purchased the former home of Philadelphia Energy Solutions in 2020 for $225.5 million, demolition of the area is still ongoing on the 1,300-acre site, as are cleanup efforts. Construction is slated to begin during the second quarter of 2022 and will eventually include more than 15 million square feet of light manufacturing, industrial, life science, and other commercial space.
For more than 150 years, the site operated a refinery. The estimation of the environmental cleanup that would be required was initially thought to be between three and five years, but those plans were expedited in partnership with Evergreen Resources Group, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
“The complexity and scale of the demolition, decommissioning, and remediation requires a strategically coordinated, phased approach to put these 1,300 acres back into commerce,” Jeremy Grey, HRP executive vice president, said in a statement. “This plan wouldn’t be possible without our strong partnerships with the environmental agencies and other key stakeholders. In addition to a qualified local project team, our firm has the experience and expertise to successfully and responsibly redevelop the former refinery.”
The massive site included more than 105 on-site buildings, 25 hydrocarbon processing units, and 3,000 tanks and vessels used to hold those refined hydrocarbons.
As of June 2021, Hilco had removed 80 percent of the equipment from the site and created a soil management plan, 60 percent of the asbestos abatement, and 50 percent of the decommissioning work required to move ahead with further development, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.
As part of the redevelopment, Hilco is recycling demolished materials and integrating reusable materials back into the site. It not only reduces the amount of material going to landfills but also reduces the water required for creating cement.
Hilco has also undertaken recruitment efforts that target local and female workers through a union apprenticeship program and a summer internship program.
At the same time, South Boston is also undergoing its own former-energy-producing upgrade. Hilco Redevelopment Partners Vice President of Design and Redevelopment Jeffrey Laurin is helping oversee the transformation of the former Edison Power Plant, located in South Boston.
Laurin, an architect by trade, heads up design and development opportunities for the company’s New England region. The VP has spent fifteen years in the commercial space and worked for construction and architecture firms including Skidmore Owings & Merrill, BKA Architects, Cutler Associates, and more.
The original structure in South Boston was built in 1889 and acted as a coal-fired power plant for more than a century. In 2016, Hilco Redevelopment Partners purchased the site and undertook an extensive community planning and review process to get both community feedback and broader municipal accreditation.
The project will create nearly 1.7 million square feet of mixed-use space and aims to be part of a larger effort to improve traffic, transit, and pedestrian infrastructure in the area.
“We’re grateful to the South Boston community, its leaders, and the BPDA for supporting our vision to transform this abandoned site into a modern and sustainable district that will create jobs, housing, and community-friendly spaces for the South Boston neighborhood,” Melissa Schrock, senior vice president of mixed-use development at Hilco Redevelopment Partners, said in a statement. “This is a complex adaptive reuse redevelopment of an obsolete industrial site that has been inaccessible to the public for over 120 years. Thanks to the valuable input we’ve received, we look forward to reinvigorating the property for generations to come.”