By SHELLEY HANSON
CHESTER, W.Va. - Though the former TS&T pottery plant site in Chester is new to the market, there are already a couple natural gas-related companies interested in the acreage.
"The site remediation is completed. It's prepped, cleaned and we're working with the state on the web and a full-blown marketing campaign," said Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle.
Ford said two natural gas-related companies are interested in the 9-acre site, which the BDC hopes to lease or sell. There is no set asking price.
Ford added three other gas-related companies are interested in the former Wheeling Corrugating plant site in Beech Bottom, of which the BDC is part-owner. All of the prospects, he said, are in the business of manufacturing parts related to the energy industry, such as pipe, equipment, valves and meters.
"All five prospects produce something differently. They're not all pipeline companies," Ford said. "The variety is exciting. That's what we want to do in the Northern Panhandle, is create diversity."
Ford noted for both sites, the corporation wants a company that will create the most jobs for the region.
"We just don't want to be a staging area for the industry," he said.
The former Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery plant closed in 1981 after 80 years in business in Hancock County. Residents who live near the site asked officials to do something with the plant because it was deteriorating, and the BDC purchased the property in 2011.
The former Wheeling Corrugating property in Beech Bottom in Brooke County has a total of 616 acres with 120 of those acres on flat land between W.Va. 2 and the Ohio River.
The BDC purchased the property during RG Steel bankruptcy proceedings.
Ford said the corporation's co-investor, Hackman Capital of Los Angeles, owns the plant buildings and interior equipment, which they plan to auction off. The cranes will be sold or leased as part of the property.
"The gas companies want cranes. There's a variety - from five to 30 tons," he noted.
Ford estimates leases will be signed for the Beech Bottom property in the next 60 days. The TS&T site may take longer because the acreage is smaller and so close to Chester.
"It's right next to a neighborhood. We want to be cautious what we put in there. We want it to blend quite well," Ford said.