BEECH BOTTOM – The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle has been awarded $225,000 in federal funds for an environmental assessment of the Wheeling Corrugating property.
BDC Executive Director Pat Ford said the grant will allow Phase 1 and Phase 2 assessments to be done of the 650-acre site.
Phase 1 assessments involve a preliminary physical study of a site and research into written record of its past use. Phase 2 assessments involve the collection and analysis of soil samples.
The work will be done by Techlaw Inc., a Wheeling consulting firm with a state contract for such assessments.
Ford said the funds are being issued through the state Department of Environmental Protection from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Targeted Brownfields Assessments program.
Brownfields are unused properties where environmental contamination or the possibility of it hinder their future development.
The Targeted Brownfields Assessment program differs from many other brownfield funding programs in that the funds require no local match. Sites are selected for various criteria, including ownership by a public or quasi-public entity and their potential for further development.
The BDC agreed to assume responsibility for environmental remediation of the property when it purchased the 650-acre site from Hackman Capital Partners of Los Angeles for $200,000 in 2012.
Hackman bought the land and the 480,000 square foot former Wheeling Corrugating Plant for $4.1 million at a public auction held as part of bankruptcy proceedings by RG Steel in 2012.
Ford said some Phase 1 assessment was done at the site prior to the purchase and he feels confident that a significant cleanup won’t be needed.
He noted some reclamation was done years ago in the area north of the plant by Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, the site’s former owner.
Ford said federal, state and local officials worked with the BDC to secure the federal funds.
BDC’s arrangement with Hackman involves it retaining rights to the building and equipment inside, the BDC owning the land at the 650 acre site and Hackman receiving a percentage of each lease or sale of property.
Since the purchase, the BDC has brought five businesses to the site: Jupiter Aluminum, which has re-opened the plant’s paint line; Sheehan Pipeline, Integrity Kokosing Pipeline Services, Profoam and most recently, L&M Logistics.
Sheehan and Kokosing are involved in building natural gas pipelines while Profoam and L&M Logistics provide services to the natural gas industry.
Ford said because they are union employers, Sheehan and Integrity Kokosing must employ local workers as half of their workforce. Sheehan currently employs 600, while Integrity Kokosing employs 36.
Jupiter Aluminum currently employs 25 and there are plans to employ another 25, he said.
Ford said Jupiter is expected to begin production in the near future, and the natural gas companies are expected to resume operations in April following a winter break.
He said collectively Hackman and the site’s tenants have made about $3.9 million in investments to the site ranging from the installation of a new water and sewer line to the installation of new equipment.
Ford said another oil and gas company and a company related to metals have expressed interest in the site recently.
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