- Associated Press - Sunday, March 15, 2015

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - A community eyesore and potential liability that was slated for demolition will soon get a second chance at life.

The former Corbin Ltd. garment factory at 1040 Vernon St. in Westmoreland was purchased in 2014 by Coalfield Development Corporation from the Wayne Economic Development Authority for $110,000 obtained from a low-interest loan. Coalfield Development has also obtained a $350,000 grant from ArtPlace America to support its goal of turning the former factory into workspace and residences for local artists and artisans.

Project director J. Deacon Stone announced last Monday the name of the development is “West Edge.” After showing a PowerPoint Presentation at the Westmoreland Women’s Club, he took interested members of the community on a tour of the factory building to share how layouts and design have changed based on community input from a community meeting in August 2014.

He also announced upcoming events and timelines, lease opportunities, partnerships, grants, key developments and programs.

“This is going to be crazy awesome,” Luke Huffman, of the civic group Project Westmoreland, said. “We are trying to get everybody outside five minutes a day and get our community back. Years ago everyone in Westmoreland knew everyone else and that’s what we are trying to get back to.”

Initial plans were to demolish the current building and erect a structure that would attract business. When the demolition’s price tag reached $250,000, the Wayne Economic Development Authority contacted the Coalfield Development Corporation, which began salvaging materials from the site in order to defray demolition costs.

While salvaging materials from the building that closed and has sat vacant since 2002, executive director Brandon Dennison and others at Coalfield Development saw solid footers, walls and a roof that were in good shape and decided to buy the building.

Coalfield Development is working with Community Works and the Wayne County Economic Development Authority on the project, with the goal of turning the former factory into a creative arts-based hub where artists can live and have space to work.

The plan also includes workshop space for Coalfield’s Quality Jobs Initiative crew members to advance their furniture-making skills and small business incubation space.

“It is a history in the making,” Stone said.

Stone said the offices in the building should be occupied within the next five weeks and the rest of the building, with the exception of the artists living quarters and studios, by this spring.

The total cost of the project is projected at $2 million.

The Coalfield Development Corporation was formed in 2009 to provide affordable housing in Wayne County. It has since expanded to Logan and Mingo counties and now has four dozen properties. Coalfield employs trainees full-time to deconstruct dilapidated structures and to build and sell furniture from reclaimed building materials. Deconstruction efforts have prevented over 175,000 square feet of building material from entering landfills.

For more information about the project, visit www.corbinfactory.blogspot.com .


Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, https://www.herald-dispatch.com

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