Trendsetting Indoor Farm Would Reclaim Easton, PA Warehouse

Trendsetting Indoor Farm Would Reclaim Easton, PA Warehouse

A plan is in the works to convert an abandoned warehouse on Easton's South Side into one of the state's first commercially-sustainable indoor farms.

The Green Works is proposed for an 80,000-square-foot warehouse at 457 W. Lincoln St., across the street from the abandoned Black Diamond warehouse, according to a letter from Bethlehem-based Taggart Associates to the Easton Area School District.

Indoor farms yield fruit, vegetables and herbs all year; keep pests and diseases away from plants; save water through recycling; and allow farmers to control light and carbon dioxide to influence how plants grow.

"The property has been considerably underutilized for many years, but the buildinghas strong potential for productive reuse," wrote Donna Taggart in the letter.

Vertical farming calls for growing plants in vertically mounted stacks, which increases crop yields compared to farms where plants are all on one level -- the ground.

The proposal is billed as Pennsylvania's first indoor urban farm on a sustainable commercial scale.

The building has the size, height and steel reinforcement that are ideal for the project, the letter says. The letter says the farm would have 30 employees. Building owner Southern Cross Management is courting tenants and building a partnership with a local university, the letter says.

Southern Cross estimates the project will cost $4.5 million.

The letter asked the school district to waive $3,380.81 in penalties for unpaid school taxes by the former property owner. Southern Cross vows to pay the $38,278 in delinquent taxes, but asked the school board to waive the penalties.

According to city and Northampton County records, a total of $96,358.66 in unpaid school, city and county real estate taxes, plus penalties and interest, have accrued on the property for the past three years.

The letter was attached to the school board agenda for Tuesday's meeting, but discussion was postponed. School district Superintendent John Reinhart said he wants the district solicitor to spend more time reviewing the proposal before the administration makes a recommendation.

Southern Cross Management President William P. Fusselbaugh wasn't available to comment on the plan but offered to speak about it in a few weeks.

Rudy Miller may be reached at rmiller@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow him on Twitter @RudyMillerLV. Find Easton area news on Facebook.

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