$2M loan to go toward rebuilding site

CHESTER – Three years after completing the cleanup of the old Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery in Chester, the property owner says it is ready to build. The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, owner of the property since 2011, learned Thursday that it has received a $2 million loan from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority for the purpose of constructing a spec building on the TS&T site. BDC Assistant Director Marvin Six made the announcement at Thursday night's meeting of the Rock Springs Redevelopment Task Force, an ad hoc committee of Chester residents that has been pushing the TS&T cleanup for years. Article Photos PROJECT ANNOUNCED — Marvin Six, assistant director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, explains the details of a Chester building project at Thursday’s meeting of the Rock Springs Redevelopment Task Force, as task force member Mary Ann Wright listens. 
— Stephen Huba   “This is the result of your participation in the process,” Six said. “Your part has value.” Six said the $2 million will be used to build a 30,000-square-foot steel building roughly in the middle of the 8.54-acre property. Several prospects have expressed an interest in the light industrial building, which will have an 8-feet-high masonry exterior, he said. The BDC will soon initiate a formal bid process, although two contractors have already expressed an interest in the project, he said. Once the contract is awarded, more design details will be added. Thursday's announcement follows years of effort by the BDC, the task force, Chester officials, Hancock County officials and other actors, who all have wanted to see new economic development sprout from what was one of the worst brownfields in the county. Following the demolition and abatement of TS&T in 2012, the BDC turned its attention toward marketing the Upper End property and cleaning up the riverbank. But the fact that the riverbank is contaminated with lead has been an impediment to developing the site. Six told the task force cleanup of the riverbank is still scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2016, although it may be delayed by yet another study – this time an environmental impact study. The BDC has a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with which to do the cleanup and recently completed a Phase II assessment of the level of contamination above and below the Ohio River water line. Six said the BDC has been working on the state loan application for the last 90 days, aware that no other spec buildings of this size exist in the Northern Panhandle. “There is a recognition at the state level that these types of buildings are necessary,” he said. The winning prospect will have the option to lease or buy the building. It also will be responsible for adding flooring, plumbing and other interior improvements, he said. Six said it was too early to tell how many jobs the project will bring to the area. The building will be constructed in such a way as to leave room for expansion, a second building and possibly a third building, he said.

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