Communities uniting to revitalize the UKV

Written by Bill Frye for the Montgomery Herald on . Posted in Media, News

Officials and concerned residents from three Fayette County communities turned out Thursday afternoon for a meeting to discuss revitalization efforts for the Upper Kanawha Valley.

Representatives from Smithers, Montgomery and Gauley Bridge listened to speakers and discussed how they can approach dilapidated buildings to bring new life to their communities by cleaning up the blight or repurposing it for new growth.

Facilitated by the Fayette County Resource Coordinator’s office, the meeting featured speakers from across the state who have experience in helping communities with their dilapidated buildings.

Speakers included Tighe Bullock from Charleston’s West Side Main Street program; Luke Elser, program manager for the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center; Katherine Garvey, director of the West Virginia University Land Use Law Clinic; Kate Greene, program manager for the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center; and Nicole Marrocco, coordinator for the Abandoned Property Coalition/WVHUB.

Gabriel Peña, Fayette County assistant resource coordinator, said the program for the three communities was part of a flex-e-grant through the West Virginia Development Office.

With the grant committees, Smithers, Montgomery and Gauley Bridge will be able to apply for resources to demolish or redevelop dilapidated structures in their communities.

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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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