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Daily Archive for May 20 2011

We Congratulate Carbonxt & Bayer

Charleston Area Alliance President and CEO Matt Ballard today congratulated the Australian company Carbonxt Inc. after it announced plans to build a $29 million plant at Institute that eventually is projected to employ 40 full-time workers.
The Alliance has been working with Carbonxt since 2007, when the company reached out for assistance in locating potential sites for short-term and longer-term facility needs. Ballard and Andrew Dunlap, the Alliance’s economic development project manager, worked to schedule meetings for the company and visits to potential sites, one of which was a location at a Bayer facility.
“We are proud of our role in this success story,” Ballard said. “The Alliance is committed to bringing jobs and employers to the Charleston region. Major endeavors like this start with handshakes and introductions. We know the Kanawha Valley’s potential, and this is a step toward creating its future.”
The Carbonxt plant will convert coal into an activated carbon product that will help remove mercury from coal-fired plant emissions.
Carbonxt has been operating a pilot plant in Charleston for years. It also spent four years at Mingo County Wood Products Industrial Park as part of a research and development project called CENfuel, which was focused on chemical purification of coal and coal waste.
“I would also like to salute Bayer CropScience, which stepped up to the plate by leasing six acres at its Institute site,” Ballard said. “Bayer understands the potential impact of an investment of this magnitude, and the entire region will benefit. This new investment demonstrates the value to the bottom line for companies seeking to invest in strategic locations where the infrastructure already exists to support chemical manufacturing.”
The Charleston Area Alliance is a business membership organization focusing on economic and community development in the Charleston-Metro area.  It is supported by more than 650 private businesses, the Kanawha County Commission and the City of Charleston.

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Downtown Apartments Going Fast

The story below appeared in yesterday’s Charleston Daily Mail. Generation Charleston, the Alliance’s emerging leaders group, has been working to promote downtown housing for four years and is hosting an Urban Living event later this summer.

By Paul Fallon
Daily Mail Staff

Ryan White, a member of an organization dedicated to attracting young people to the city of Charleston, believes urban-minded professionals are itching to move into the downtown.

That’s if affordable housing can be found. And White, cochairman of Generation Charleston, believes that is something the downtown area lacks.

But he believes one development in the city is a step in the right direction. Bill Turner, co-owner of the Loewenstein Building on Capitol Street, bought the large, historic structure about two years ago with the intentions of creating loft apartments for young, urban professionals.

And the effort is beginning to pay off after the renovations were completed a few months ago. Turner has rented 22 of the 24 apartments in the five-story building that sits in the heart of the city’s Village District.

“Our occupants are people that want to live, work and play downtown,” Turner said.

White agreed, saying the types of people who are attracted to downtown are typically young, about 30, and childless. They’re the ones who want to walk to their favorite haunts around the city.

“These are the people that want the convenience of going to dinner, or going to work and not having to drive to get there,” White said.

Although he has no specific evidence to back up his assumption, White believes that more affordable housing in downtown will be available for those who want to take advantage of the convenience of urban life.

However, Turner, a developer of both commercial and residential property, does not think an abundance of housing in the city will soon become available. He pointed out that developers must be able to find buildings they can turn into apartments at a reasonable price to make them affordable to tenants.

“This is the biggest challenge that needs to be overcome,” he said.  

And if developers can vault themselves over that hurdle then the benefits would be great for the city, White said. Affordable downtown housing could encourage professionals who already live in the area to stay in Charleston, and it could also help to attract people from other communities to the city, he said.

Both of these factors would help to increase the population of both the city and county, he said.

White and Turner agree that keeping the housing affordable is the key to attracting tenants. And Turner believes he is doing that.

For example, a single bedroom loft in the Lowenstein Building is $777 per month, Turner said.

“And all the tenant pays is electric,” he said.

However, that does not include cable or Internet service, Turner said.

The two-bedroom units, of which there are eight in the building, run $856 a month. However, only the one-bedroom apartments are currently available, he said.

Turner believes this illustrates that the apartments are affordable because it did not take them long to be rented.

Turner has also made a significant investment into the city. From acquisition of the building to renovations, the project cost about $2 million, Turner said.

The building is old, having been built in 1900, and there are many challenges associated with renovating a historic structure, he said.

Because it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, rules must be observed when renovating the building. For example, renovations must adhere as closely as possible to the original architecture of the building.

“We had to follow the state culture and history rules, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority Rules and city council rules,” Turner said. (more…)

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Help Us Improve Charleston … Block by Block

Generation Charleston has adopted a block – more specifically, Edgewood Drive.

Every third Saturday of the month from April to October, GC volunteers will engage residents on that stretch to take an active role in “maintaining their piece of Charleston,” said Megan Tarbett, co-captain of the Community Outreach Team.

The next effort is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 21.

The Adopt-A-Block program is modeled after the Adopt-A-Highway program. Generation Charleston is in charge of monthly maintenance, including trash pick-up, leaf removal and larger beautification projects. Volunteers also hope to interact with residents and welcome them to participate.

To volunteer, contact Tarbett at Megan.H.Tarbett@wv.gov.

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