Microbrewery among redevelopment ideas for 19th century stone building in Martinsburg

Written by Matthew Umstead, The Herald-Mail, June 14, 2013 on . Posted in Media, News

MARTINSBURG, W.Va.— A microbrewery was among the most popular redevelopment ideas pitched Friday for the Matthews Foundry, a dilapidated 19th century stone building located in Martinsburg’s historic industrial core.

Built before the Civil War, the building at 420 N. Queen St. was one of five projects in Main Street communities across the state that the West Virginia Redevelopment Collaborative chose earlier this year to receive technical assistance that could help spur revitalization.

“We’re really excited about this project,” Carrie Staton, the collaborative’s coordinator, told community stakeholders invited to a kickoff for the Benedum Foundation grant-funded project.

Main Street Martinsburg was awarded $5,750 as part of the expanded focus of the redevelopment collaborative, which is part of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center.

In other similar projects, Staton said in an interview that such grant funding has been used to develop a conceptual design or market and feasibility studies as part of efforts to establish a general vision for the property.

Staton said she expects a project redevelopment plan for the property will be developed by sometime next spring after working with Main Street Martinsburg, community stakeholders and a “brownfields redevelopment team.”  

Participants in the informal workshop-style session Friday morning were asked to draw designs with colored pencils and examine the property’s assets, obstacles and potential uses in context with downtown Martinsburg.

The property’s location in a floodplain area would have to be taken into consideration in redevelopment, said city Planner Tracy Smith, who lauded the multiuse ideas that many offered for the property during the brainstorming session.

Although long since closed, the water-powered foundry’s iron products, such as sewer and water main covers, and drains, can still be spotted at many places in the city.

Ideas pitched in combination or in addition to the microbrewery, included a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating along Tuscarora Creek that runs past the property; a museum to preserve the history of the property; and restoration of a water wheel that once was there. 

Michael Covell, city planning director/engineer, said the foundry property’s redevelopment would ideally become “a link in the chain” of investment in nearby properties that also are part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and Related Industries Historic District.

“You have an absolute gold mine here,” Covell said. 

Read the full story at The Herald-Mail.com.

Wellsburg aims to breathe new life into old properties

Written by Linda Harris, Weirton Daily Times on . Posted in Media, News


WELLSBURG – The boarded up windows at the old Brooke Glass property in the south end of town don’t begin to tell the story of what’s happening in the community, Mayor Sue Simonetti says.

Idled more than three decades ago, Simonetti sees the old factory as the centerpiece of a citywide effort to reinvent Wellsburg that started just about the time the old Banner-Fibreboard property in the heart of town was cleaned up and then acquired by Eagle Manufacturing for roughly $1.2 million. The company is currently building a 40,000-square-foot distribution center and a 1,200-square foot office where the paper plant once stood, leaving it with another 60,000 square feet of development potential in reserve.

“Brooke Glass wasn’t our first priority (when we started),” Simonetti says of the 2-acre parcel just a block from city hall. “But it’s become our first priority.”

The property’s ascension up the priority list started with a $5,000 grant from the Benedum Foundation to assess the potential for environmental contaminants on site, calculate the cost to remove them and get public input on how the property should eventually be reused. The assessment grant was followed up with another $5,000 grant through “Project Buzz,” a redevelopment program spearheaded by the West Virginia Redevelopment Collaborative.

The Redevelopment Collaborative is a Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center project. Because it’s funded by the Benedum Foundation, its services are available statewide.

Once they’re accepted into the program, “Project Buzz” uses a team approach to breathe new life into old industrial properties by helping community leaders draft redevelopment plans tailored to their needs and allows them to tap into the expertise of faculty members at West Virginia University, Alderson-Broaddus, Fairmont State, West Virginia Wesleyan and West Liberty University as well as experts in government and the private sector.

While the initial assessment grant helped them figure out what was on site that needed to be removed, City Manager Mark Henne described the buzz grant as “seed money to keep the ball rolling, to look at how our feature properties can be reused once they’re cleaned up.”

Read the full story at the Weirton Daily Times