Plans underway for FCI building

A new company may soon begin to occupy the former FCI USA Inc. building in the Riverview Business Center in Shirley Township.
 
Greg Larson, a local architect for Pittsburgh, Kansas, based Jake’s Fireworks, spoke for the company during the Shirley Township Supervisors’ monthly meeting Thursday evening.
 
Larson said the company only wants to “work with the interior of the building” to “allow square footage to be all open for the new use of storing fireworks.”“We’re asking for conditional approval of their intended project in the old FCI building in Riverview Business Center,” Larson said. “There is a contingent agreement to purchase the property ... upon the granting of two building code variances. This is a little bit of a fast track ... but contingent on those building variances, this project should go ahead.”
 
After a few questions from supervisor Bob Allenbaugh, Larson explained the changes to the facility, include fireproofing.
 
“I think it would be infeasible to try and fireproof the whole thing without trying to remove all of that infrastructure,” Larson said, explaining the first variance the company is seeking, allowing the roof structure to go without updated fireproofing.
 
The second variance, Larson said, involves the “exit distance travel” in the building. For storing fireworks, universal building codes require exit distance travel of 150 feet or less.
 
“It would be, without doing serious modifications (impossible),” Larson said, explaining the building is nearly 400 feet by 400 feet.
 
Larson added the building currently has a sprinkler system and the company plans to have a contractor come in to review the status of the system. The plans will come before a Unified Construction Code variance hearing at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5. Josh Stovall from Jake’s Fireworks also addressed the board.
 
“We are not the explosive type of hazardous materials,” he said. “We’re strictly Class C fireworks, consumer fireworks. Anything you can purchase in a fireworks store or tent, that’s what we will be storing in that facility.
 
“Another misconception is when they explode, it’s going all over the place; that’s when they’re manufacturing,” he said. “When we get them, it’s 97 percent cardboard and three percent chemicals. We burn, we don’t explode.”
 
Stovall said the company plans to occupy the building “as soon as possible.”
 
“We’re on a short time schedule,” he said. “Our busy season starts in April and goes through July 4 or July 5. We don’t have one case of fireworks in the building and we can’t until everything is completed.
 
“I think we have about a month’s worth of work to do,” he said. “I don’t know the time schedule for (inspections) ..., but we would like to be in there by mid-March.”
 
Stovall also lauded the community, adding everyone the company has worked with has been “helpful.”
 
Supervisor Gary Frehn said he is happy to work with the company and said he “just wants to get jobs toHuntingdon County.” “We need jobs here,” he said.
 
Huntingdon County Business and Industry (HCBI) executive director Amy Wise was at the meeting Thursday night.
 
“One of the things Josh has said over and over again is how helpful everybody has been. That has not been the case in other communities where they’ve looked at locating,” Wise told The Daily News following the meeting. “We’ve kind of solidified our reputation as being helpful to business. We’re hoping other companies they work with would be able to move here.”
 
As for the Keystone Opportunity Zone tax designation available for the Riverview Business Center, Wise said it “didn’t really” play a role. “(The company) didn’t know about the (tax designation) until it signed an agreement for sale,” Wise said. “Honestly, it’s the building price. FCI is very interested in moving the property.” Wise said she is hopeful the project will move forward quickly and that next week’s variance hearing will go well. “Because they’re not doing a massive renovation or expansion, it’s probably one of the more simple projects we’ve worked on from that perspective,” she said. She added Jake’s Fireworks will be a good addition to the county’s business community. “This company is solid and family-owned,” Wise said, adding Stovall and his wife plan to relocate to the area to oversee the project.
 
Candy can be reached at cprice@huntingdondailynews.com.