BDC finds new contractor for TS&T job

LOCAL NEWS MAY 8, 2016   CHESTER – The owner of the old Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery site apparently has dodged a bullet in its effort to develop the land. A week ago, on the same day it closed on its construction loan, the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle learned its general contractor had closed its doors. By Friday, however, the BDC had signed a new contract and appeared ready to proceed with construction later this month. “The way we’ve been able to seamlessly get through it has been nothing short of miraculous,” said BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford. What Assistant Director Marvin Six called a “hiccup” in the process was the news that General Industries, of Charleroi, Pa., the BDC’s design-build firm for the project, had closed. “We were celebrating (the loan closing) when we got the call,” he said. No explanations were proffered, except that the owners of General Industries were dissolving the family company after four decades in business. BDC officials immediately went back to their bid list and contacted the second-lowest bidder, Grae-Con Construction Inc., of Steubenville, and asked if the bid was still good. It was. “One week later, everybody was lined up. We didn’t miss a beat,” Ford said. Six said the amount is about $80,000 higher than General Industries’ bid and will be covered by the company’s bid bond. As for the construction schedule, Ford and Six said it will be delayed slightly. The BDC originally had expected to break ground on the 30,800-square-foot, one-story building in April. That now has been pushed back to later this month, Ford said. Both adjacent property owners of TS&T were informed of the schedule change, Six said. Helping the BDC is the fact that the project architect – Designstream LLC, of Pittsburgh – and the civil engineer – Tri-County Engineering, of Hunker, Pa. – will be retained by Grae-Con, Ford said. “We wanted to make sure that those guys got paid and that there was continuity,” he said. “We don’t want to lose any time.” The BDC has a $2 million loan from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority and a $1.7 million loan from United Bank, of Weirton. The bank loan is for short-term construction financing which came in lower than originally anticipated, Ford said. The state loan will be used to pay back the bank loan, and the state loan will be paid off over the course of 20 years or sooner, depending on whether the BDC sells the property or leases it. How the building develops in terms of offices, utilities, floor plan and other details depends on the tenant. The West Virginia Development Office has been marketing the property and has several prospects that are interested. The BDC had retained General Industries in February. Ford said the company has cooperated with the BDC since the closing announcement. “They were really sympathetic. They could not have handled this more professionally or graciously,” he said.