MORGANTOWN, W,Va. –– The ambitious multi-year Richwood Avenue redevelopment project is about to make a major advancement. On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” President and CEO of the Morgantown Area Partnership (MAP) Russ Rogerson said the bid date for structure demolition will be July 18, just about three weeks away.

“The tearing down of about 55 structures that the Mon County Development Authority (MCDA) owns in the Richwood Avenue area,” Rogerson said. “That area will be graded and seeded for the next purpose.”

The city of Morgantown is funding the asbestos assessment and demolition work through a grant from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and funds from the Willey, Spruce, and Brockway TIF districts. Once these structures are down, developers will be able to survey the site and design the structures.

“The most significant part about that is that once the land is cleared, it gives our private developer partners the opportunity to have some assurance of deliverables on the pad sites and be able to engage in contract talks.”

The projects in development will go through a public approval process, and completion is not expected until the spring of 2025. The city of Morgantown previously approved a zoning change in the area from R-1A to B-1 neighborhood business district, opening the door for mixed-use development.

“The plans will be filed before then, and people will have a much better understanding of what would be constructed there,” Rogerson said. “They have to go through those processes, but I would say in the in the spring of next year (2025), the vertical should begin.”

The MCDA bought approximately ten acres of what was largely housing for college students for $11.8 million in 2020. The Monongalia County Commission provided $250,000 to allow time for the MCDA to refinance the project, and the city of Morgantown has largely funded the environmental testing and funds for structure demolition.

“That’s why these types of projects are so challenging,” Rogerson said. “Not only do you have the typical forces of cost and availability of materials and such, but to carry a project of this size as long as it has been carried is no easy task.”

Now four years in the making, Rogerson believes the first major Morgantown neighborhood redevelopment project will begin making major strides in the next 18 months.

“We have persevered; we believe we’ve kept the land cost and development cost at a point where there is a margin for private developers to be able to build and do what they do so well,” Rogerson said. “To populate the area and put those great services and apartments in place.”

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