Cork Factory Lofts

What is it?

Brownfields are properties, expansions, redevelopments, or reuses of which may be complicated by presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

The Cork Factory Lofts


  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • 1860- the factory was built
  • 1974- the factory closes
  • 1995- EPA starts the Brownfields program
  • 2004- potentially hazardous material is found at the abandoned cork factory
  • 2008- The cork factory lofts became available to the public

Old Cork Factory

A once abandoned Cork Factory that has now been transformed into lofts available to rent for the pubic.

what happened and what dangers were present?

The abandoned Cork Factory was purchased by McCAffery Interests/Big River Development L.P. of Chicago, Charles Hammel III, and Robert Beynon in 2004. Two abandoned Underground storage tanks were discovered on the property one contained compressed air and the other contained heating oil. However, they were unsure of the potential dangers because there was no evidence of any leaks but the storage tanks were removed and put to waste anyway. Benzo(a)pyrene and TCE was later found in one to tow foot surface soils. Additionally benzo(a)pyrene, TCE, benzene, Methyl chloride, arsenic, and mercury were found in waste pile on the property. Several Volatile organic compounds, one semi-volatile compound and two metals were found in nearby groundwater. Asbestos containing materials and lead paint were also found in other buildings on site and vapor contamination was way below indoor air quality thresholds. The amounts of contaminants exceeded direct contact with residential properties but not for nonresidential properties.
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Human Dangers Present

The nearby groundwater was contaminated and the use of this groundwater was prohibited by Big River Development. Lead paint on the walls and throughout the site cold cause major health problems if ingested by humans. Benzo(a)pyrene, Mercury, and other contaminants are extremely poisonous and can cause major problems or even death in humans.

Clean Up

The technical consultants were hired to perform the clean up and they were paid for by state agencies, local agencies, and the EPA. The extent of clean up varies depending on the type, amount, and area of contamination. Big River does not remove metals, VOC's, and SVOC's in the groundwater and soil.

Current Environmental Condition

The area is able to be lived in and the old Cork Factory has been transformed into lofts with over half of them being rented out already. At the grand opening lofts in 2007 135 units were already being rented.

Data Presented

This project created an estimated 325,000 jobs and $20,145,000 in wages; however the total cost of the project was over $78 million. The factory is located on 4 acres of land and nearby groundwater was also affected so a ban was placed om using the ground water surrounding the factory.
Fully Furnished Short Term Rental - 3BD 2BA Cork Factory