GOOD NEWS HUNTINGTON: Development, Jobs Arriving; HMDA Sells Industrial Center to Level 1

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
GOOD NEWS  HUNTINGTON: Development, Jobs Arriving; HMDA Sells Industrial Center to Level 1

More Announcements to Come Says Mayor Wolfe

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) – Huntington Mayor Kim Wolfe has announced the sale of a significant piece of Huntington Municipal Development Authority property. Level One Festeners will pay $3.5 million dollars for the Huntington Industrial Center property on West Tenth Avenue.

Originally , a part of the Owens-Illinois glass factory , the location has been vacant since SNE , a vinyl window and door manufacturer, moved out in 2008. Since SNE moved out the only tenants at the location have been Robert Jone Alloys and Por Tech Rail. Level One sells nuts and bolts to the military.

The purchase puts HMDA back on solid financial footing. When SNE left, HMDA has struggled to pay its loans related to Kinetic Park. The city had to allocate some CDBG funds for payment of the loans. That’s in the past, now.

Joining Level One, which moves from 300 Third Avenue (the former Banks Miller), will be the previously announced United Wastewater Services which will be leasing about 40,000 square feet. Wastewater will initially employ 15 people, but anticipates another 25 within two years.

In addition , Level One will spend about $2 million for new equipment and space renovation. They hope to move in the next four months. Initially, they plan to add 30 employees to its workforce of 75. The company has conducted discussions about possibly leasing all of the industrial center.

In a separate interview, the defense contractor said that the amount of electrical power available at the new location was a consideration in the decision. Currently, on Third Avenue , they have access to about 1,200 kilowatts. The Industrial Center has up to 12,500 kilowatts available. This may spur the arrival of manufacturers complimentary to Level One.

The Level One and Wastewater announcements come after a Putnam County dentist signed to build an office on the top portion of Kinetic Park.

More good job news will likely come soon. For instance, a law firm has an option to purchase the municipal annex building next to City Hall. The option runs out in mid-March so HMDA director Tom Bell anticipates possible finalization in the near future.

Mayor Wolfe expressed his “excitement” at the announcement and more than hinted that similar announcements are forthcoming.

In fact one of the projects about to finish renovations is the former Ames Building on Fifth Street Road. It will become the new office for Direct TV.

The confirmed news could not have come at a better time --- Huntington City Council begins its annual series of fiscal year budget hearings this week. Wolfe’s fiscal 2011-2012 budget includes cuts and layoffs, but business and job growth on the horizon could help council which must determine its decisions without inclusion of the passed but unimplemented business tax reforms.

The legislative home rule committee meets in mid March to consider that package which includes the controversial occupation tax. Last week, the Mayor told HNN that even should the package win board approval, funds will likely be used for one-time capital improvement projects, since the city’s authority home rule authority has a sunset unless extended by the WV legislature. Further, at the time of passage, one or more groups had stated that the occupation tax will be challenged in court on constitutional grounds. To offset that threat, the City of Huntington hired a WVU professor of constitutional law to access the likelihood of the tax reforms as written of surviving a court challenge.


Meanwhile, on the Marshall campus, the Board of Governors heard additional discussion last week concerning an engineering complex for the school. Marshall University President Stephen Kopp indicated that a $25 million dollar bond is one option for what is expected to be a $50 million dollar expansion. The University has $25 million of the need $50 million. The committee will bring a report to the April 28 Board of Governors meeting.

Kopp has assured that there will be no increase in student fees. According to a published story, the university president said “potential donors” have approached the university.

No word yet on Marshall’s downtown investment. The University acquired the Stone & Thomas complex across from Pullman Square for expansion of the art department. However, the school must raise funds now to renovate each of the floors of the seven story building.

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