On a recent trip to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania I was surprised at how that city has embraced its past and its abandoned steel mills by re-imagining and reusing them rather than Ignoring them or knocking them down.

One complex now called Steel Stacks was restored into an arts center that is now a venue for concerts and community events such as art shows and craft fairs.  My wife took my kids to a family friendly New Year's Eve event there and was very impressed with how they were able to use the building's industrial look in an artistic manner. 

Another mill now known as Riverport was converted into a mixed use facility which houses a sports bar, Gym, and condos.  All of which still have that industrial look to them.

And the largest redevelopment of them all is the Sands Casino in Bethlehem.  This multi million dollar renovation took the basic structure of a large mill and converted it into a luxurious casino complete with slot machines, gambling tables, hotel rooms, high end restaurants, and concert venue.

I'm not saying we should put a casino in any of our abandoned steel mills but I am saying it's time for our elected leaders to begin realizing what a resource we have here and begin exploring alternatives for these sites.  Let's face it, the steel industry is not coming back.  Bethlehem, PA. had the foresight to realize this and look beyond steel and manufacturing.

Because of the size of some of these building there are a multitude of uses for them.

 Shopping center
 Sports complex
 Arts and entertainment center
 Residential and office use
 Education facility

I urge all of you to contact your local leaders and encourage them to begin looking into possible ways to use all of these sites in order to bring value back to these forgotten treasures.

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