SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus – 2014 Global Awards for Excellence Winner

Credit: Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority

Credit: Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority

About SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus

Location: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Developer: Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority
Designer: WRT, et al
Size: 9.5 acres

The SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus sits within Bethlehem Works, a 126-acre parcel established as a 20-year tax incremental finance district (TIF) in 2000. Bethlehem Works, in turn, is part of the largest brownfield in the U.S.: a 1,800-acre former steel plant operated by the Bethlehem Steel Corp. until it shuttered the plant in 1997 — six years before the international corporation was liquidated in a bankruptcy settlement.

The former plant occupies 20 percent of the City of Bethlehem’s real estate (city population: 75,000). The plant’s closing had an appreciable impact on both the city and the Lehigh Valley region (regional population: 1.0 Million). Over the past 10 years, the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority oversaw the development of new industrial parks and intermodal transportation facilities on large parcels at the eastern end of the former plant.

Bethlehem Works occupies the western end of the former plant. It is nestled against the city’s well-established South Side neighborhood and includes the former plant’s oldest surviving and most historically significant structures including five 20-story-tall blast furnaces (steel stacks).

Campus development was financed through a combination of TIF funding, government grants, philanthropic donations, nonprofit funds, and private investment. The project’s success is contributing to the sustainability of the campus’s tenants, spurring private development in abandoned buildings and sites adjacent to the campus, and bolstering existing businesses in the South Side neighborhood.

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