BEECH BOTTOM - Officials with the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle spent the holiday season showing the newly acquired Wheeling Corrugating property to a steady stream of prospective developers, Executive Director Pat Ford said.
The BDC holds title to the property, acquired in November from bankrupt RG Steel.
State Route 2 LLC, a division of Los Angeles-based Hackman Capital, actually purchased the property out of bankruptcy, then promptly transferred the land rights to the BDC for $200,000. The Hackman subsidiary still owns the rights to the equipment on the site and will reap some benefits from site development. However, because the title was passed to the BDC, it won't be responsible for any legacy issues. As a nonprofit, the BDC has access to public and private dollars to clean up site contaminants that the for-profit Hackman Capital can't tap into.
The BDC and Hackman, however, are working together to market the property.
Ford said he showed the 650-acre property, which includes a 480,000-square-foot warehouse plus 120 flat, developable acres, "all through the holidays."
"There wasn't much of a break, which is a good problem to have," he said.
Ford said the prospects, companies in the energy sector, seemed to have liked what they saw. Several have already made repeat visits, he said.
"People drive by the property see it and just assume it will never be available," he said. "Once people actually stop and they see the enormous size of the building or stand at the northern end of the building and look north, up state Route 2, they see how big 120 acres of flat land is and they realize it's an incredible opportunity."
So far, Ford said prospects have expressed interest in the land or the building, but not both.
"It's too big for one tenant, particularly the tenants we're looking at who are showing interest in it," he said. "Some are looking for just land, anywhere from 5 to 20 acres; others are looking for building space, anywhere from 50,000 to100,000 square feet."
That's not a problem, he said, though they are planning to do their homework before they do any subdividing: Ford said they've already met with two engineering companies to discuss proposals for a master site plan "so we don't subdivide the property prematurely and compromise the development (potential) of the property."