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Former SCI Greensburg headed for auction block | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Former SCI Greensburg headed for auction block

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, November 20, 2014 12:01 a.m

Sprawling acreage, thousands of square footage and views of barbed wire can be purchased for as little as $860,000.

The behemoth state prison known as SCI Greensburg is up for bid, nearly 17 months after it was closed because of the high cost to run it and a declining inmate population, officials said. The decision meant a loss of 360 jobs and tax revenue to Westmoreland County.

“That’s good news, and that’s movement,” said Commissioner Charles Anderson. “The loss of that facility was a great blow to the community.”

Bids are officially being solicited by the state Department of General Services for the 103-acre site in Hempfield.

The state has spent more than $2.5 million on upkeep and security at the empty prison since it closed in June 2013.

“I am pleased that it is finally … to this point, and I hope there’s a buyer out there somewhere,” said state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield.

“It’s about time,” said county Commissioner Ted Kopas.

In January 2013, local officials were caught off guard by news that the prison would close in six months. State officials said the closures would save $23 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year and up to $35 million annually long-term. SCI Greensburg cost $46 million annually to operate and housed fewer than 1,000 inmates.

Most guards employed at the Hempfield facility transferred to other positions within the state prison system. Inmates were moved to a new 2,000-bed prison in Centre County or SCI Pine Grove near Indiana.

The county commissioners said a buyer who brings jobs to the site is key.

Commissioner Tyler Courtney said employment opportunities are “critical.”

“I’m not sure what the interest level will be,” he said. “The property is a niche piece of property. It’s going to take the right buyer to buy it.”

In August, Hempfield Township supervisors approved a subdivision request from the state that separated the prison site from two other adjacent state-owned pieces — a 5-acre lot housing a state police crime lab and an undeveloped 12-acre parcel along Willow Crossing Road. The site is designated as a regional commercial zone.

The township lost hundreds of thousands of tax dollars as a result of the prison closure, said Supervisor Doug Weimer.

“I hope that an interested party will come forward with a bid to develop the site and help restore the lost revenue to Hempfield Township,” Weimer said.

The property will be awarded to the highest bidder who has met various criteria set by the state, said Troy Thompson, a spokesman for the Department of General Services. State officials have placed no restrictions on the site, he said.

Bids will be opened Feb. 18.

The bidding minimum is $860,000. Interested bidders must submit, along with the proper paperwork, a check for 2 percent of the bid offering.

The highest bidder will be responsible for executing an agreement of sale within 15 days of the award, along with a 5 percent deposit toward the purchase price.

County officials abandoned plans in the mid-1960s to build a prison and sold the site on Route 119 to the state for $3.8 million. It opened as minimum-security State Regional Correctional Facility 5 in 1969.

More than $12 million was spent over several decades to expand the prison as overcrowding became an issue statewide.

In 1986, the Hempfield site became a correctional institution, a medium-security facility for inmates sentenced to serve two years or more.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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