Developer Kicks Off $15M Building for Stonecrest Business Park

NEW BEAVER BOROUGH, Pa. – A 150,000-square-foot spec building to be constructed on the site of the former Stonecrest Golf Course will represent the first phase of an effort to make Lawrence County more competitive in the effort to land development projects, officials said.

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Thursday morning for Stonecrest Business Park, which LaCarte Development Company Inc., Charleroi, is developing. The first building is expected to be completed by fall 2025, said John LaCarte, president of LaCarte Development and principal of Stonecrest Business Park LP.

“The site won’t really probably be ready for vertical construction till spring of next year,” he said.

The plan for the site is to develop up to $1.5 million square feet of space, with the potential of employing more than 1,000 residents, said Ben Bush, executive director of the Forward Lawrence Chamber and Economic Alliance. The project is the first private business park to be constructed in the county in 40 years, he said.

The first building will cost about $15 million, and site preparation for the entire project should come in at about that as well, LaCarte said. 

“We saw the growth coming in this direction,” LaCarte said. “You’ve got to have sites available and buildings for companies to occupy.”

The site where the Stonecrest Business Park is being developed.

LaCarte’s company, which has focused on development in the Mon Valley region, acquired the golf course in March 2021 with the intent of developing it as a business park, he said. He saw the area as attractive for such development, citing ongoing infrastructure investment nearby and proximity to the Royal Dutch Shell’s ethane cracker in Monaca.

While the cracker plant’s operation hasn’t led yet to the kind of spinoff activity he had anticipated but which he is optimistic will come about eventually, the location lends itself to large distribution operations as well as light manufacturing.     

Bush, who took the job with Forward Lawrence about eight months ago, said Lawrence County has several assets, including “an excellent transportation corridor,” a workforce in which “manufacturing and industry runs in its blood” and “excellent electrical infrastructure.”

The reason it often loses economic development projects to Pennsylvania’s neighbors to the west is the lack of development-ready pad sites or buildings ready to occupy.

“Thanks to John’s investment, we’ll be able to compete again,” he said.    

“You’ve got to put your line in the water to catch a fish, and you’ve got to have a site; you’ve got to have a building,” LaCarte said. “That’s how you catch a fish in the economic development world.”

Among the officials attending the event was Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, who said he loved groundbreaking, but “ribbon-cuttings are truly the best.” Davis also said he and Gov. Josh Shaprio “are both competitive people” and “don’t like losing,” especially to Ohio.

“We need to make sure that Pennsylvania can compete and win. Unfortunately, over the past few years, in the past few decades, we’ve lost out on economic opportunities because, in many respects, we haven’t even been in the game. So the governor and I are making it a priority to get in the game,” he said.  

Initiatives launched by the Shapiro administration include the PA Sites program, which provides funding for businesses to develop sites for businesses to relocate or expand and which the administration plans to add $500 million. Shapiro’s budget also includes a $20 million investment to support innovation, $3.5 million to launch the Pennsylvania Regional Economic Competitive Challenge to incentivize regional growth and $25 million for a program to support small businesses along commercial corridors.

Stonecrest, which previously received loan and grant funding totaling $5 million from the commonwealth’s Business In Our Sites program, also is in line to potentially receive Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program funds.

LaCarte recalled a clandestine visit to the golf course – using an assumed name, because people were becoming aware that he was interested – with his father to check out the property. As they drove the property on a golf cart, his father said to him that “bad things would happen” to anyone who did something to the golf course.

He then joked that his father “didn’t get an invitation” to Thursday’s event, quickly adding that he was with his wife, who was undergoing cataract surgery.

Pictured at top: From left are Ben Bush, executive director of the Forward Lawrence Chamber and Economic Alliance; state Rep. Aaron Bernstine; Lt. Gov. Austin Davis; and John LaCarte, president of LaCarte Development and principal of Stonecrest Business Park LP.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.