South Philadelphia

South Philly Refinery Buyer Has History of Redeveloping Defunct Industrial Sites

Philadelphia's managing director says the company's plans for the site do not include refining.

The planned buyer of the shuttered Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery site has a long track record of redeveloping defunct industrial sites, taking a leading role in massive projects spanning from Boston to Baltimore.

Hilco Redevelopment Partners, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Hilco Global, emerged as the leading bidder to acquire the 1,300-acre South Philadelphia site for $240 million. Shuttered for seven months, the plant was the largest oil refinery on the East Coast. Philadelphia Energy Solutions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July following a massive fire, and the sale process had been ongoing since November.

So what do we know about Hilco?

One of the company's current projects is the overhaul of a former 3,100-acre Bethlehem Steel mill site along eastern Baltimore County's waterfront into a massive hub for industrial warehouses. It's also involved in revamping a former power plant in South Boston.

report from Reuters says the likelihood of the shuttered Philadelphia Energy Solutions site returning to refinery operations is lessened following Hilco’s purchase, but there is still a possibility of the company leasing the space to another refinery, biofuel company or heavy industrial operation. 

Brian Abernathy, the city's managing director, told WHYY that Hilco's plans do not include refining. A Hilco spokesperson declined to comment on whether refining would happen in the future, citing auction and bankruptcy proceedings slated to take place in February.

Read more about Hilco Redevelopment Partners' past projects at

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