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[IMGCAP(1)]GRAPEVILLE, PA-More than 25 companies have submitted offers to salvage materials of the former Westmoreland Glass Co. factory. The current owner, Beacon Redevelopment Industrial Corp. of North Huntingdon, PA rejected a $5.5-million demolition bid in late July, announcing it would take bids for the job, which is expected to produce $15 million to $18 million of salvageable materials.

“We have had an overwhelming response since we announced we were taking bids. More than 25 companies have contacted us. Six companies are going to look at the site,” Adam Marek, president of Beacon Redevelopment, tells GlobeSt.com. “We’re going to be interested in those companies with experience with brick and metal.”

Investors built the glass factory in 1889, where its famed milk glass operation was housed until 1984 when the company went out of business. Hempfield Township supervisors have tried to have the buildings torn down for the past 13 years, according to Marek. In 2006, the township ordered the 16-acre site to be razed. Marek says there has been no opposition to tearing down the facility. Beacon acquired the site last month.

[IMGCAP(2)]“We have several ideas in mind of what we want to do with the site. The township is interested in a small industrial park or an alternative energy plant such as an ethanol-type facility,” Marek says. “We’re definitely going to put something productive into that area, maybe a factory of some sort.”

Marek says the former owner didn’t see value in the site. “The company didn’t realize the brick was worth something,” he says. “It’s old Chicago brick in perfect condition. People want vintage brick–it’s more valuable. This has held up for 100 years in the weather. The new brick isn’t as good. Some companies slice the brick and use it as outer covering for houses and buildings.”

[IMGCAP(3)]The Chicago brick is worth 30 cents to 75 cents apiece, depending on the quality and amount. Beacon estimates that there are nine to 10 million recyclable bricks on the site. Also, authenticated commemorative bricks will be sold to collectors of the glass. On top of that, there are about 40,000 tons of recyclable steel, which Beacon says is worth about $250 to $300 per ton. Beacon also has rights to the natural gas deposits on the site.

There have been two fires at the factory since the factory was abandoned in the 1990s, caving in the brick behemoth’s roof and blocking off interior areas. “The fire did a lot of damage. We still don’t know the full extent of what is in there,” Marek says. “There may be some molds left in there, but we can’t access them until a demo team comes in.”

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