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Board discusses Brooke Glass property

Warren Scott - The Wellsburg Urban Redevelopment Authority recently discussed potential uses for the former Brooke Glass factory, including light industry and a tourist attraction that could draw users of the Yankee Trail beside it and other visitors to the city.

WELLSBURG — The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle is seeking input from a city board and others about potential uses for the former Brooke Glass property on Sixth Street.

Marvin Six and Jacob Keeney, leaders of the BDC, asked the Wellsburg Urban Redevelopment Authority on Jan. 12 what type of business or development it envisions occupying the two-story building and 1 acre site.

After acquiring the former glass factory in 2014, the BDC used about $240,000 in federal, state and local funds to conduct an environmental assessment and cleanup there.

It is one of several properties the economic development agency has purchased with the intent of marketing it to potential new businesses or other development.

Keeney asked members of the volunteer board if they would like to see a new industry move into the building or for it become home to a restaurant, tourist attraction or combination of both.

URA member Kevin Jones noted former Wheeling factories have been developed into eateries or microbreweries that have been quite popular.

Noting the building is adjacent to the city’s Yankee Trail, URA member Alex Weld suggested a business or businesses catering to trail users as well as others.

The trail extends south to the Brooke County Pioneer Trail, which connects with the Wheeling Heritage Trail.

Michelle Temple, another member of the board, said high-speed Internet service is available in that area and suggested the building could be converted into apartments for singles.

Temple noted with the current demolition of the former GenPak building, that site may be considered for industrial development.

The owner of the former plastics factory has hired crews to raze the structure, which was destroyed by fire in 2017.

Six said he doesn’t believe the Brooke Glass building would be well suited for apartment space. But he agreed proximity to the trail makes it ideal for retail or tourist attractions.

Mayor Sue Simonetti noted the public was asked to suggest future uses for the property several years ago. She said one suggestion was a business specializing in watercraft that can be used on the nearby Ohio River.

URA member Matz Malone said they shouldn’t limit themselves to one idea.

It was noted there were plans initially to demolish the 140-year-old building. But engineers working with the BDC found its central section, formerly used by the glass factory’s production line, was structurally sound, so only the front and rear sections were razed.

The URA was formed, with Wellsburg Council’s consent, to pursue the redevelopment of vacant buildings and properties in the city. Council has allocated a limited amount of funds for its efforts, so the group also is exploring grants.

Another project eyed by the board is the acquisition and redevelopment of three buildings across from City Hall on the Wellsburg Town Square.

The URA is in talks of purchasing the three from the buildings’ owners after securing about $20,000 in grants through the Northern West Virginia Brownfield Assistance Center and Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley to acquire them and assess their rehabilitation.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)

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