MORGANTOWN, W.Va. The Monongalia County Commission has approved $250,000 to help the Mon County Development Authority (MCDA) refinance their stake in the Richwood Avenue redevelopment area. The 11-acre parcel was purchased by the authority three years ago for $11.8 million.

The highlight of the three years was Morgantown City Council approving the rezoning of the 53-acre parcel area from R-1 residential to business B-1. The reclassification gave the MCDA and developers the freedom to begin taking the next steps to move the project forward.

“There were some big steps that needed to be accomplished, one of them being rezoning, which just happened a couple of weeks ago, and I want to thank the city for agreeing to our plans, so now this project is ready to take off,” Monongalia County Commission President Sean Sikora said.

Legal Counsel for the MCDA, Rocky Gianola, said conceptual designs have been under development for the now 10.8-acre area ready for development. The refinancing process is underway and is expected to be complete by April.

“We have moved forward with the project design, and we have gotten the property rezoned so it is one 10.8-acre parcel,” Gianola said.

The 11.8-acre area was once largely student housing prior to the purchase in late 2020, when the Monongalia County Commission made an initial commitment of $30,000 per year to MCDA to help with the financing burden of the project, bringing their total support to $90,000. Since that obligation, other groups have stepped forward to keep the project moving forward.

“WVU has about $180,000 that they have contributed to the project, the city of Morgantown has about $1.15 million, and the Mon County Development Authority has about $1.4 million in it so far,” Sikora said.

The MCDA will use funds from refinancing along with $700,000 from the Willey, Spruce, and Brockway TIF provided by the city of Morgantown for asbestos assessment, abatement, and demolition. The work is expected to be done in the spring and early summer.

“That refinance of the project will also include part of the demolition, and we have state funds that will be used for certain parcels of the demolition, and there will be certain funds used by the city for the other demolitions on the project,” Gianola said.

Gianola told commissioners that many people have been a part of this to bring it from just an idea and a vision to the reality of structures going up this year. Local, regional, and national developers are reportedly interested in the project.

“Engineering, site plan development, and project-specific footprints and facilities that we anticipate are beginning to come out of the ground this year,” Gianola said.