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Property deal could lead to future development

Looking over plans for the new Park Drive Development are, from left, BDC Assistant Director Marvin Six, Weirton City Manager Travis Blosser, Weirton Mayor Harold Miller, BDC Executive Director Pat Ford, and Eric Frankovitch of Park Drive Development LLC. -- Craig Howell

WEIRTON — New opportunities for development are expected for property along Three Springs Drive following a recent property transaction.

The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle has acquired 72 acres of land within the Three Springs Business Park, with plans for a multi-million-dollar redevelopment project. The property was purchased in late December for an undisclosed price from Park Drive Development LLC, a group of local investors who will remain involved in the project.

Eric Frankovitch, representing Park Drive Development LLC, explained his group initially purchased the property, including an area previously owned by Weirton Steel Corp., with plans to eventually develop it for business opportunities.

“We’ve looked at a number of possibilities over the years,” Frankovitch said.

Frankovitch said this new agreement, which also includes involvement from the City of Weirton, has the potential for growth and job creation.

“We think it’s going to be beneficial for everyone involved,” Frankovitch said.

BDC Executive Director Pat Ford expressed his appreciation to the members of Park Drive Development LLC for showing their confidence in the local economic development agency and the city.

“To have a site in the Ohio River Valley of this size, just off an interchange with a four-lane highway, is extremely rare,” Ford said. “With the help of our partners, we are prepared to make infrastructure improvements that will catalyze this development for diverse and exciting projects that have been waiting in the wings.”

Mayor Harold Miller noted this is the latest opportunity for development in the city, explaining when he took office two years ago, he was immediately approached with potential projects, including this property.

“It takes a combined effort,” Miller said, adding there has been an increased cooperation between the city, the BDC, officials from both Hancock and Brooke counties and others to find a new vision and create new possibilities. “We know what we are. We see what we can be.”

While a full master plan currently is in development, Weirton City Manager Travis Blosser explained 58.25 acres of the site currently is slated for possible light industrial and manufacturing projects. The remaining 13.9 acres have been proposed for retail and hospitality development.

Among the potential projects is a conference center, proposed by the city more than a year ago. Blosser said a feasibility study for the conference center has been completed.

“This is the property that study recommended,” Blosser said, noting the site’s proximity to three hotels, as well as various restaurants and existing retail.

As the property is located within the City of Weirton’s Tax Increment Financing District, Blosser explained the city will contribute through the development of utilities, roads and other infrastructure improvements, which he said will assist in luring additional prospects.

“It makes it that much more palatable,” Blosser said.

The three entities also will work together to market the site to potential business interests, a continuing cooperative effort officials note has been an advantage for the city.

“To be competitive in modern economic development, you have to have a diverse team to close a deal,” BDC Board Chair Bill D’Alessio said. “We work with our public and private investors to bring capital investment, new business opportunities and jobs to our community.”

Among the results of those cooperative efforts has been bringing Pietro Fiorentini and Bidell Gas Compression to Weirton.

Blosser said other development prospects, which he said “will change the complexion” of Weirton for years to come, are in the works.

The BDC has been involved in the remediation and repurposing of several properties in Brooke and Hancock counties, which, to date, have yielded $113 million of private and public investment.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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