Meet Hilco Redevelopment Partners: the new owner of the Philly Energy Solutions refinery

Chicago-based Hilco Redevelopment Partners won a $240 million bid to acquire the Philly Energy Solutions (PES) refinery site.  

ABC reports that PES put the bankrupt refinery up for sale, one month after fires and explosions ravished the site. The site laid off more than 1,000 workers in the process. 

Although the sale needs federal approval, it’s not clear how the new owners want to use the land. It was reported that U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Feb. 6. There is a Feb. 3 deadline for filing any objections to the plan. 

However, City officials told Inquirer.com that they think the company is planning on redeveloping it into a mixed-use industrial facility. 

“I think their timeline is aggressive, I’ll put it that way,” Brian Abernathy, Philadelphia’s managing director, told Inquirer.com.  

Abernathy added, “I think they want to be in the ground quickly.”

Abernathy was part of the four-person city government delegation and attended Friday’s six-hour-long auction. Abernathy told inquirer.com that Hilco was well-prepared for the negations; however, they did not submit a formal place for the site. 

“They’ll probably still keep the tank farm and some of the some of the energy logistics that are on-site, but they don’t intend to operate the refinery,” Abernathy told the outlet. He also said he was looking forward to seeing what they were doing with the property and thinks it might become a site for multiple uses. 

With this plan, Hilco will be responsible for clean-up costs and environmental liabilities, according to the purchase agreement, which you can read here

Sunoco Inc., a previous owner of the refineries, agreed in 2012 to clean the area, it is not clear how they will be working with Hilco. 

Many are suspecting that the 150-year-old refinery will no longer be a refinery. 

“The nail’s probably in the coffin for the refinery,” Ryan O’Callaghan, told Inquirer.com. O’Callaghan is a spokesperson for Steelworkers Local 10-1. They represented 640 of the 1,100 employees before the refinery was shut down. 

O’Callaghan added, “We’re waiting to see what Hilco’s plans are.”

Advocates and other community leaders who opposed the continuation of refining are cautiously optimistic about the future of the refinery. 

Joseph Otis Minott, executive director of the Clean Air Council, shared a statement with inquirer.com that said, “With Hilco’s proposal likely to be approved by the bankruptcy court, we are cautiously optimistic about the opportunity for the site to be much less polluting than its previous use as a refinery,”

It continued, “The public must now do everything it can to hold Hilco accountable for developing the cleanest and safest uses possible at the site.”  

Additionally, the statement added, “Clean Air Council urges Hilco to reach out to stakeholders, including environmentalists and nearby neighbors, to work with them on the future use of the site.”

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