BDC moving on leases

WEIRTON – The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle has put together packages for four properties in Weirton and Beech Bottom, Executive Director Pat Ford confirmed Monday.

Ford said a trucking company, a pipeline company and two others in shale-related manufacturing are reviewing proposed lease agreements for properties in the Three Springs Business Park and the former Wheeling Corrugating property in Beech Bottom “to see if they want to tweak any of the stipulations in the leases,” he said.

The company interested in the Weirton location would bring several dozen jobs initially, with the potential to triple that number down the road. He said the Weirton site, located just off U.S. Route 22, is geared to different uses than the Beech Bottom property, which includes roughly 150 flat, developable acres fronting the Ohio River.

But in both cases, he said location is driving interest in the properties.

“They’re right between all the hot spots, the hot well sites in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and major transportation corridors can immediately drop you into those sites,” he said.

While the Three Springs site is geared more to light manufacturing, assembly, distribution, warehouse and office functions, the Beech Bottom property’s previous heavy industrial life lends itself to heavy manufacturing uses, “with larger lay-down areas for storing heavy equipment/pipe, things of that nature. And there’s plenty of room for tractor-trailers to get in and out of the site, stage pipe and do work inside building.”

In Beech Bottom, Ford said they’re working with Hackman Capital, the Los Angeles-based company that partnered with the BDC in acquiring the former steel mill, “to identify what pieces of equipment might be more valuable to stay with the building.”

He said there are 5-to30-ton cranes in the plant that prospective tenants might be interested in having, for instance.

Because of potential legacy issues associated with the site, Hackman Capital retained control over the equipment and allowed the BDC to take control of the land. They’re working with the BDC now to market the property.

Equipment left on site that’s deemed expendable will be sold at auction on March 19.

Ford and Hancock County Commissioner Dan Greathouse, meanwhile, said they’ve also been approached by companies interested in the old Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery site in Chester, a nearly 10-acre property fronting the Ohio River, and are preparing to take bids for salvaging stadium properties in Newell and Weirton that the county commission purchased from the board of education.

Greathouse said the stadium properties are being prepared for job-creating activities, not housing.

“Job creation, that’s it,” he said. “Our hope is to find someone that will come in here and create jobs.

“One of the reasons we stepped up to the plate to buy them was we were worried about (the end uses.) We’re not going to sell it or do anything that’s not beneficial to the citizens of Hancock County.”

While most of the materials at the stadium sites will be sold for salvage, he said the visitors bleachers at the old Weir High stadium will be advertised for bid separately because they can be reused. “We’ve already had an interested party,” he said. “We want to see what they’re worth.”

Ford said they’ve already shown both stadium sites to the prospects looking at the Three Springs and Beech Bottom properties, but it was “hard for them to visualize the potential because of the bleachers, the press boxes, lights and concession stands.”

“We want to move forward and get the sites cleared so we can advertise them to prospects and get those properties back on the tax rolls as soon as possible,” he said.

Ford said they’ve also completed the marketing strategy for the old Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery and will begin “aggressively marketing” it in March. Any day now he said an advertising wrap will be going on a silo at the site, “it will be very visible to anyone driving by on U.S. 30,” he said.

“It’s important to us that we get an employment generator in there. We’ve actually been talking to a small light manufacturing company and also an oil and gas company that’s expressed interest in that property,” Ford said, adding the prospects they’ve been talking to for the Chester site “found us, they came to us.”

Greathouse said they’ve also been getting nibbles for the old Company 3 fire house in Weirton, which the county acquired recently as the result of a court action filed by a city resident who wanted to protect taxpayer interests.

“Some people are interested in leasing it, some in buying it,” he said.

“One person called who’s interested in doing something there. We turned the information over to the BDC.”

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