MADISON - The sale of a historical Madison property was finalized last week for the purchase price of $30,000.
Known by the local community as the "Ice Plant," the now-dilapidated structure at 10 Avenue C was once the home of multiple successful businesses. The building is adjacent to the walking bridge that crosses the railroad tracks behind the Madison Volunteer Fire Department.
According to the State Tax Commissioner of West Virginia's sales listing form, the sale includes two lots purchased by Boone County Community Development Corporation from Lyon Realty Company.
The structure had housed two residential tenants who have since been asked to vacate within 30 days.
According to county officials, the purchase was in motion before the Boone County Development Authority was created earlier this year. The Boone County Commission does not own the property, as the development corporation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit entity using monies collected through its various office space rentals, accumulated over multiple years.
"I knew that it had been up for sale before and it was taken down and put up again," BCCDC Director Kris Mitchell said. "I like to keep track of the commercial property that is for sale in the county. I was afraid that if the building didn't sell that it would grow up and be a blight for our community."
Mitchell made it clear that the BCCDC is not in the business of purchasing dilapidated buildings, but due to the location and the potential for the property, the board of directors agreed that building should be acquired.
"It isn't often that can you find two acres of flat land in town," she said. "With a walking bridge here, the main road a block away, it has a lot going for it."
Environmental concerns are one caveat for the potential future uses of the property. An environmental study, including groundwater testing, has been implemented. The history of the structure dating to the 1920s included an ice plant that received large blocks of ice from a train and distributed them to ice boxes throughout the community before refrigerators were standard household equipment. In later years, it served as home to businesses like Raleigh-Boone Service Petroleum Company and later, Lyon Oil Company.
As a non-profit, the BCCDC can acquire grant money to fund associated studies and cleanups.
The first order of business will be a superficial cleanup of the property, then a phase two environmental study will take place.
"I want people to understand that the county is not on the hook for this," Mitchell said. "My dream is to keep the shell of the building as the brick is in good shape, particularly considering it is 100 years old. We know it is in the flood (plane) and we are looking for ways to mitigate that and we've consulted a certified flood manager.
"If the building can stay, it won't be a problem. If they find contamination in the soil and how far down they have to go, they'll have to remove the dirt and the building will have to go. If we have to do that, we will keep the brick so it can be used for other purposes. I have discovered that we can rebuild on that site, but in the worst-case scenario, it becomes a park with river access. Regardless, we will have options."
Mitchell said she does have a vision.
"I'd love to see the structure stay and a riverside restaurant go in there," she added. "With two decks down to the side, one of them covered, with live music and a nice path to the river. You can call in ahead and have a ready-made lunch waiting for you as you kayak down the river. In the garage area of the building, I'd like to see an outfitter."
Mitchell sees that initiative as a 10-year project, and it isn't yet clear whether that scenario would require a renovation by the tenant or an investment by the BCCDC.
"The time involved in the cleanup will determine the timeline," she added. "I don't know what will be involved at this point."
West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers were created in 2005 by the West Virginia Legislature to empower communities to plan and implement brownfield redevelopment projects. WVBAC has provided guidance and information regarding the potential for the property, according to Mitchell.
With positive movement in Boone County regarding the return of Hatfield-McCoy Trail System access, Mitchell believes that the property could be used to provide a supportive element to what could manifest into local tourism dollars.
"We see potential," she said. "I'm excited about the prospects."
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.