Reimagining the Shenango Coke Plant Site outside Pittsburgh, PA

Why our Work is Needed

Delta Institute has worked with numerous communities who are faced with a closed–or closing–coal power plant. These sites have unique needs for redevelopment, ranging from environmental remediation to replacement of lost tax revenue and jobs. Delta facilitated a coalition of community groups located outside Pittsburgh, PA to create Guiding Principles for sustainable redevelopment of the closed Shenango Coke Plant property located on Neville Island, located on the Ohio River.

Intended for use by future developers of the 50-acre site, these Guiding Principles were created by the Shenango Reimagined Advisory Council, composed of citizens, environmental groups, economic development agencies, and municipalities. These efforts were facilitated by Delta staff.

The re-visioning process identified seven Guiding Principles important to the community for the redevelopment of the former Shenango Site. These Principles included:

    1. Site reuse should maximize net revenue to local and regional taxing bodies, and not burden the public with expense needed to mitigate negative impacts to air and water quality, roads or public health.
    2. Future site users should develop and maintain a positive relationship with local community stakeholders and mitigate negative environmental impacts of their development or operations.
    3. The site should not be used for any industry that requires a US EPA Clean Air Act Title V or a major source air emissions permit.
    4. Site remediation should be in accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Act 2 Cleanup Standards to sufficiently protect public waterways, groundwater and public health. Remediation should also make the site attractive for desirable re-uses.
    5. The site should not be used for activities related to hydraulic fracturing, petrochemical industries or downstream activities related to a petrochemical facility.
    6. Redevelopment of the Site should provide an opportunity to create sustaining jobs for residents of Allegheny County, with workforce development opportunities.
    7. Redevelopment of the Site is encouraged to include sustainable characteristics, such as LEED Certification, Living Building Challenge or Energy Star certification.

The year-long revisioning process that took place from 2019-2020 identified 20 site reuse ideas that are in alignment with Guiding Principles and market forces. These opportunities ranged from light- to heavy- industrial use, as well as specialty manufacturing, including recommendations such as a commercial bakery, equipment or electronics assembly, brewery, or sheet metal fabrication. All recommendations were based on market analysis, with an emphasis on generating tax revenue and adding jobs to the local economy while minimizing or eliminating any potential negative environmental impacts.

Ultimately, Delta Institute strives to provide useful, viable plans, strategy, and tools for communities to bolster economic development, expand revenue opportunities, and improve environmental outcomes – while including the community’s voice at every step of the process.


Delta is grateful to a wide array of partners whose lived experience, acumen, and wisdom helped informed the Guiding Principles:

  • Allegheny County Clean Air Now
  • Allegheny County Economic Development
  • Allegheny Land Trust
  • Borough of Bellevue
  • Borough of Ben Avon
  • Breathe Project
  • Citizens of Neville Township
  • Emsworth Community Council



Our efforts were underwritten by a coalition of funding partners, including the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and the Just Transition Fund. Project partners contributed sizable staff hours, energy, and tasks to complete this comprehensive project.

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