A Step Toward Renewal

Written by Michelle Sloane for Renewal and Development Magazine on . Posted in Media, News

West Virginia towns take the steps toward renewal by addressing vacant properties

“They stopped thinking about it as me and started thinking about it as we.”

Two years ago, community members in Fairmont, West Va. decided to address the significant number of abandoned buildings in the city by forming a Brownfields, Abandoned, and Dilapidated (BAD) Buildings Team, supported with technical assistance from the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC).

While City Planning Department staff spearheaded the effort, volunteer citizens surveyed 326 properties across 110 miles of city streets — on foot. After dividing the city by council districts, 18 volunteers walked the streets in pairs to document the conditions of abandoned and dilapidated properties via a 2-page survey per building.

Volunteers then compiled the survey information into a database and researched property owners within a month and a half. The inventory became a live document, as the team continues to update information about properties.

While many City Council members were initially against the creation of strong legal enforcement like a vacant property ordinance, the results of the volunteer-driven inventory process demonstrated the need to implement specific tools to tackle the dilapidated building situation. The city passed a Vacant Property Registration Ordinance and created tax credits rewarding vacant property rehabilitation.

Soon after establishing the Vacant Property Registration Program, Fairmont representatives met with counterparts from the city of Wheeling, West Va. to exchange insights and discuss similarities and differences between their programs. NBAC staff facilitated the meeting through the Redevelopment Expert Exchange program.

Ground Broken for New Business Park in Chester, WV

Written by Linda Harris, Legal Reporter, The State Journal on . Posted in Media, News

Construction officially began June 23 on a 30,000 square foot industrial building to anchor the new Rock Springs Business Park in Chester, WV.

Federal, state and local leaders gathered to break ground at the 8.5 acre site, once home to the Taylor, Smith & Taylor Pottery.

“This development will transform a once abandoned pottery factory site into a job-creator for Hancock County and the Ohio River Valley,” Hancock County Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller said. “The business park will also add much needed building inventory to our region to accommodate the economic growth in energy, transportation, and value-added metals.”

The property, a brownfields site, is owned by the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle. The organization has been able to drum up nearly $3.3 million in loans and grant funding for the acquisition, site cleanup and redevelopment.

The West Virginia Economic Development Authority and United Bank are financing construction of the building. BDC Executive Director Pat Ford said no tenant has been announced, but energy, chemical and value-added steel fabrication companies have shown interest in the site. He said a final decision is “probably still about three months off.”

Read the full article on The State Journal website.

Hat’s off to the City of Kingwood for WVDEP ‘Land Revitalization’ award for ‘robust recycling program’

Written by John Dahlia, The Fairmont News on . Posted in Media, News

Last week, the City of Kingwood was given an outstanding honor from the West Virginia Department of Environment Protection. At the 2016 Environmental Awards, which honor the initiatives of organizations and individuals from across West Virginia, Kingwood was awarded the Land Revitalization Award for its “robust recycling program.”

Kingwood was one of 19 organizations from 14 counties honored in categories ranging from Clean Energy and Water Conservation to Land Revitalization and Sewage Treatment.

Kingwood’s award stemmed from how city leaders worked through an increased interest in recycling and community participation over a short period of time. Previous recycling operations outgrew the existing space Kingwood was using. Members of City Council, most of whom are still serving today, recognized that a local abandoned warehouse would be a great building for the city’s growing recycling program.

The warehouse was the old Penmarva building, which previously housed a grocery wholesale company. It was dilapidated and had been neglected since 2007. But its size made it an ideal home for Kingwood’s recycling operations.

City leaders at the time, including former Mayor James Maier, looked at various ways to purchase the building. But it turned out the property was a perfect brownfield site.

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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION RECEIVES MULTIPLE EPA BROWNFIELD GRANTS

Written by Marvin Six, Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle on . Posted in Media, News

BDC Board Chairman Announces $600,000 USEPA Coalition Grant Award to Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson counties
and two clean-up grant awards ($158,500) in Weirton

The Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle (BDC) has received a highly competitive 2016 US Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Coalition Assessment Grant. The award will benefit Brooke and Hancock counties in West Virginia and Jefferson County in Ohio and specifically benefit sites in Newell, New Cumberland, Weirton, Wellsburg, Toronto, Steubenville, and Mingo Junction.

The grant of $600,000, the maximum award allowed, will assist in the environmental assessment and eventual repurposing of potentially contaminated properties within the coalition area.

“This U.S. EPA grant is critically important in removing barriers to repurposing and job growth in a region that is already strong on economic development fundamentals, such as industry diversification, transportation, and a trained labor force,” said BDC Board Chair William D’Alesio. “Eradicating contaminants on Brownfield sites will increase the fiscal stability of our communities by allowing vacant properties to again contribute to the tax base. It will also help improve the health of residents by cleaning up our environment. This effort demonstrates the strength our three counties and two states can have when we work together toward a common goal—jobs.”

“We are extremely pleased our coalition was the recipient of this major $600,000 USEPA award to be used for our environmental assessments,” said Board Chair Deborah Venci of the Jefferson County Port Authority (Port Authority). “Repurposing our underutilized land assets is a top priority of our coalition. Not only are these sites eventually remediated and redeveloped for the creation of jobs, but environmental justice is served by eliminating detrimental health effects for our communities and their residents.”

The BDC and Port Authority have identified at least 6 vacant, abandoned, or underused sites in six communities. The EPA grant will help fund an environmental assessment of these sites, focusing on contamination stemming from petroleum and other hazardous materials. The funding is distributed through the EPA Brownfields Program, which cleans up and reinvests in sites that are contaminated—or perceived to be so—and have limited redevelopment potential because of potential liability.

The BDC also received two USEPA Clean-up Grants for the former Jimmy Carey Stadium ($52,500) and The Lodge at the Williams ($106,000). BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford is hopeful these cleanup grants will kick start the repurposing of the former Jimmy Carey Stadium and the historic community landmark The Lodge at the Williams Golf and Country Club.

“Our assessment projects have lead to major clean-ups, repurposing, and job creation at sites such as: Rock Springs Business Park (Chester), Chrysler Dealership (Newell), Three Springs Business Park (Weirton), and the Beech Bottom Industrial Park (Beech Bottom). Strategically-based attention, with the use of these grants, make it possible to assess, remediate, repurpose, attract investment, and create jobs for our community,” said Ford.

Ford added that these grants, totaling $758,500, would not have been possible without the support, draft writing, and data gathering assistance of our partners; including U.S. Congressman David McKinley, R-WV, the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Planning Commission, the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, the Jefferson County Port Authority, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the Benedum Foundation, the board and staff of the BDC, and many other community organizations and volunteers.

About the BDC
Formed in 1993 and chartered as a 501-C3 (private, not for profit) organization, the BDC is the designated economic development organization for Brooke and Hancock counties. The BDC is dedicated to creating jobs and encouraging private investment in the northern panhandle. The BDC gets its support from the WV Development Office, WV Economic Development Authority, USEDA, USEPA, Benedum Foundation, private investors, Brooke and Hancock Counties, and the cities of Weirton, Beech Bottom, Bethany, Weirton, New Cumberland, and Chester.