Former Huntington plant building to be creative arts hub - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Former Huntington plant building to be creative arts hub

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Rendering courtesy of Coalfield Development Corp. Rendering courtesy of Coalfield Development Corp.
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By JAMES E. CASTO

For The State Journal

The Coalfield Development Corp. has received a $350,000 grant to help renovate a long-vacant building on Vernon Street in West Huntington. The non-profit organization plans to transform the old building into a creative arts-based hub.

Coalfield Development’s Executive Director Brandon Dennison said the grant has been awarded by ArtPlace America, a New York City-based collaborative that seeks to advance “creative placemaking, in which art and culture plays an explicit and central role in shaping communities’ social, physical and economic futures.”

The Huntington grant is one of 55 awarded this year by ArtPlace, which is supported by a consortium of a dozen national foundations.

Dennison said once the 93,000-square-foot building is renovated it will have multiple uses, including: workshop space that’s open to the public; workshop space for Coalfield’s Quality Jobs Initiative (QJI) crew to advance their furniture-making skills using reclaimed materials; affordable living and working space for Appalachian artists; and small business incubation space and coaching services to advance creative entrepreneurship.

“We are delighted to share this exciting news with our community,” Dennison said. “While we know first-hand that deploying the arts can transform communities, having our work recognized by a generous grant from ArtPlace further supports and validates our efforts.”

The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.32 million, he said, with Coalfield Development planning to eliminate overhead costs by acting as its own “in-house” contractor. Coalfield’s trainees redevelop old properties to provide affordable housing, while learning the construction trade. This time they will be renovating the old plant building into apartments and work space for artists and craftsmen.

From about 1960 to 2002, Corbin Ltd. used the building to manufacture and warehouse clothing items. It had been mostly vacant in the decade since Corbin ceased operations.

Coalfield Development purchased the building from the Wayne County Economic Development Authority for $110,000. Wayne EDA Director Don Perdue called the project “really good news. We’re fulfilling our mission by taking something used and making it useful.”

Perdue said recent efforts by the authority to sell the building had been unsuccessful “and we had just about reached the point where we thought we would have to tear it down and simply market the land.”

Although generally known as “the Corbin building” in recent years, the clothing manufacturer was by no means its first tenant.

From the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s, the building was home to the A.F. Thompson Manufacturing Co., a major manufacturer of gas space heaters. In 1925, Thompson purchased the building from Saks Stamping Co., which made hospital supplies.

“We’re really not sure how old the building is,” Perdue said. “We think the oldest parts of it may be at least 100 years old.”

Founded in 2008, the Coalfield Development Corp.’s mission is to be “a community-based organization that provides quality and affordable homes, creates quality jobs, and generates opportunities for quality lives for low-income families in the coalfields of West Virginia.”

 

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