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Firm with Ties to Major Mushroom Processor Tearing Down Former Technicolor Plant for New Site

06.24.2020


Olyphant, Lackawanna County, PA - A holding company with ties to a food-processing firm most well-known for its mushrooms is in the midst of demolishing the former Technicolor plant to construct its own facility.

 

 

In May, a company known as Eastern PA Land Investment Holding LLC purchased the 1-million-square-foot factory at 1400 E. Lackawanna Ave. and the surrounding land for $12 million. Although the firm has been tight-lipped about who would occupy the new facility, a notice filed with the state Department of Environmental Protection to remediate the site lists Kevin Manmiller of Temple-based Giorgio Foods as the contact for the holding company. Attempts to reach Manmiller and Giorgio Foods were unsuccessful.

 

Giorgio Foods processes and distributes mushroom products for retail, food service and industrial markets, according to its website.

 

During a Mid Valley School Board meeting last month, representatives from the company said the facility would involve the shaping of aluminum, board President Steven Vituszynski said.

 

The operation would create quite a few high-paying jobs, and even the lower-paying jobs would pay more than other local businesses, he said.

 

Technicolor, previously Cinram Manufacturing and a descendant of Specialty Records, produced compact discs. It once maintained a staff of about 4,000, though when it closed in 2018, fewer than 200 were employed there.

 

Council President Jimmy Baldan was unaware of the holding company’s ties with Giorgio Foods but said he expected the property would be used for food processing or canning because of its plans to discharge several hundred thousand gallons of water into the sewer system each day.

 

The plant will discharge approximately 300,000 gallons per day, borough engineer Lou LaFratte said. Preliminary plans show the new building will be about 900,000 square feet, he said. It has some tractor trailer parking and several hundred spots for employee parking, he said.

 

The firm will go before council at 7 p.m. today for a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance hearing, said C.J. Mustacchio, the borough manager and solicitor. LERTAs exempt property owners from paying some or all taxes on improvements to a property. For the LERTA to take effect, borough council, the Mid Valley School Board and the Lackawanna County Commissioners must all approve the terms.

 

The school board will consider the LERTA during a virtual meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m.

 

Under the proposed terms of the 10-year tax abatement, the property owner would continue to pay the current tax rate on the Technicolor plant, Mustacchio said. It would not be taxed on any new improvements until the LERTA expires.

 

“We don’t lose a dime,” he said.

 

For the school board, the LERTA means they will continue receiving property taxes on their third-largest tax generating parcel in the district, Vituszynski said. Without the LERTA, if a company tore down the facility, the district would only receive the value of the land, he said. The facility is assessed at $1.99 million, whereas the land is only $55,216, according to the county assessor’s office.

 

The parcel of land containing the Technicolor plant is assessed at $2.046 million, according to the assessor’s office. At Olyphant’s tax rate of 10.6 mills, the borough would continue to receive $21,687.60 on the property. For the school district and its 120.2731 millage rate for the 2019-20 school year, that translates to $246,078.76.

 

A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value.

 

Vituszynski hopes the board will approve the LERTA.

 

“I do know that a lot of us seem very excited about the potential job opportunities that are going to be coming in,” he said.

The new jobs also mean increased revenue from earned income and local services taxes, Mustacchio said.

 

Borough council supports the LERTA, Baldan said.

 

Demolition is ongoing, and the firm submitted its preliminary land development plan to the borough, Mustacchio said.

 

Crews spend 12 hours a day demolishing the building, said council Vice President Jerry Tully. Although much of the work is obscured from view, the clangs and booms of demolition are audible from Technicolor’s cordoned-off entrance on Mid Valley Drive. A portion of the building’s roof has already been removed. Clouds of dust occasionally rising from the structure and a large pile of debris is visible at the building’s northeast corner.

 

In addition to the LERTA hearing Tuesday, council will consider an agreement where the firm would pay the borough to use its police to secure the site during construction, Baldan said. Olyphant would be reimbursed for the same $20 to $22 hourly rate that it pays its officers, he said.

 

Attendance will be limited at the council meeting to maintain social distancing in the council chambers at 113 Willow Ave.


Contact the writer: flesnefsky@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5181; @flesnefskyTT on Twitter. 



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