PBS39 at Steelstacks
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Total Project Cost
The PBS39 at SteelStacks project was undertaken by PBS39 Foundation and the Lehigh Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation to construct a Public Media and Education Center on the redeveloped Bethlehem Plant of the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation. This site is the nation’s largest Brownfield, located in a severely economically distressed census tract in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The PBS39-Steelstacks Public Media and Education Center is the new home of the regional PBS affiliate, PBS39 (aka Lehigh Valley Public Television). The station features a 100 seat television studio to host live community discussions and forums, both on and off air. These forums bring in people from the local low income communities to allow for more open exchange of ideas and opportunities for outreach and education. The new Public Media and Education Center provides PBS39 the opportunity to expand its educational outreach, enhance the cultural offerings in the SteelStacks Campus, relocate (and add) jobs to the Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone, and attract new entities to do business in this highly distressed economic area.
The PBS39 at SteelStacks project is one of the first projects on this site and an anchor for the western end of the 125 acre site. Building on the current successful community outreach efforts of PBS39, the goal is to draw people to the site, provide cultural and educational opportunities, and encourage further development on the site and further connections with the adjacent community.
The City of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation have been highly engaged in the overall creation of this development plan. The City of Bethle- hem has committed resources from the Tax Incremental Financing District (TIF) on the BethWorks site for infrastructure including a Visitors Center, the two plazas on the plan and the Town Square.
We provided $13.5 million in loans for the construction of the PBS39-Steelstacks project. Total costs of the project are $23 million. UDF’s loans provide beneficial rates and terms including below-market interest rates and interest only for seven years.
The project is located in an extremely depressed neighborhood, with a 28.7% poverty rate and median income that is 47.1% of the area median income. It is located in a TIF District and and Keystone Innovation zone.
The PBS39 at SteelStacks project provides economic revitalization of the Southside Bethlehem community in a number of ways. PBS39 at SteelStacks is an anchor for the revitalization of the former Bethlehem Steel Plant site with immediate access to the neighborhoods of Southside Bethlehem. The project is located on the nation’s largest brownfield site, the old Bethlehem Steel Plant. The city has committed funds to renovate the other areas of the site in conjunction with PBS39s efforts on the site.
PBS39 at SteelStacks will be placing 33 jobs in the South Bethlehem Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ), and will generate $3.64 million annually in direct, indirect and induced economic development within the low income community through its jobs creation, visitors and program attendees being brought to the site. The project will provide enhanced on-site programs for at-risk youth within the Low Income Community, thereby assisting in reduction of gang activity and crime. Additionally, PBS39 at SteelStacks will provide increased educational opportunities and resources for adults and children of the Southside Bethlehem neighborhoods and the surrounding region.
The City of Bethlehem is an enthusiastic proponent of, and partner with, PBS39 on this project. The City is committed to making substantial physical improvements to the site’s infrastructure and public spaces by creating 2 Plazas (the Festival Plaza and the Steel Stacks Plaza), a Town Square (21st Century Town Square) and construction of the City’s new Visitor Center. The capital improvements to the SteelStacks campus by the City of Bethlehem are estimated at $25 million. These improvements are integral components of the SteelStacks campus and alleviate a significant financial responsibility from PBS39.