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CURA to survey Elk City district

Charleston Urban Renewal Authority board members agreed Wednesday to let CURA Director Jim Edwards look for a consultant to figure out how to expand the boundary of the West Side Community Renewal District to include to the Elk City neighborhood.

Edwards said he checked with the city's Planning Department about the process after board members last month said they'd like to add the business strip along West Washington Street from the Elk River to the railroad tracks to an existing urban renewal district that includes much of the West Side flats.

The Elk City area was part of an older urban renewal district that expired in 2006.

"I'm not sure why it was allowed to expire," Edwards said. "It's not an area that I would consider completed."

Edwards said he will write a request for proposals for a consultant who would survey the area to determine possible boundaries for the expanded district. The final boundaries would be decided by CURA and City Council.

"As you recall, we have to have a finding of blight," Edwards said.

Under state code, an urban development authority can't create a redevelopment plan until the local governing body (in this case, City Council) declares "such area to be a slum or blighted area in need of redevelopment."

Edwards said he would talk to business owners on the West Side to see what their plans are, and check with West Side Main Street.

"I think it's important for the public to know this brings no additional cost or tax, no additional regulatory authority," Edwards said.

Also Wednesday, Edwards said construction on the East End park near Dixie Street is moving along. Contractors have built columns to support the main entry arch, he said.

"The only challenge is AEP came to us. They previously wanted to bury the line that runs overhead in an underground conduit. Now they want to take it down an alley. They said they want to get their largest truck to all of the conduit and the transformer. So that has added some cost -- another $5,000 to $7,000."

In other matters, Edwards gave updates on several issues board members discussed in executive session Wednesday:

| The state Department of Environmental Protection continues its cleanup of the former Sunoco gas station site at the corner of Greendale Drive and West Washington Street, which CURA would like to see redeveloped.

"Obviously that's the first step," he said. "We have to make a decision once it's cleaned up whether to acquire it. If we do, we'll have to market it for redevelopment, which could range from a public space all the way to a commercial development.

| A bankruptcy judge has appointed a trustee to see off properties owned by the Dandy family trust, including the building at 1601 Washington St. E that CURA has been trying to get redeveloped. The trust filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after CURA said it would use its eminent domain power to acquire the building.

| CURA has advertised for proposals to develop CURA-owned property at 1002-1018 Quarrier St., former site of the Holley and Worthy hotels. The CURA board will invite prospective developers to its June meeting, Edwards said.

| CURA is also seeking proposals for a small block the agency owns at Dickinson, Lewis, Christopher and Shrewsbury streets, he said, in the heart of the city's black historic district. "That location is really not a commercial office or retail area. I think it's a multifamily residential site."

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.

 


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