Long-awaited demolition faces another delay - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Long-awaited demolition faces another delay

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By JAMES E. CASTO


For The State Journal

The on-again, off-again demolition of Huntington's vintage-1940 Northcott Court apparently has been delayed again, at least temporarily.

Demolition was scheduled to start Monday, Aug. 25, on three of the multiple buildings at Northcott. But according to a source in the state Department of Environmental Protection, it's been determined there may be asbestos in the roofing material of the complex. Pending the results of further testing, the scheduled demolition has been put on hold, the source said.

Northcott, located on Hal Greer Boulevard, is one of Huntington's oldest public housing projects. More than two years ago, the city and the Huntington Housing Authority announced a plan to demolish it and replace it with new housing and commercial development.

But repeated efforts to obtain approval of the plan by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proved unsuccessful. Earlier this year, HUD at long last gave the project a green light and the Housing Authority began moving tenants out.

The tenants were given the option of moving into other public housing units or accepting a housing voucher enabling them to move into a private unit.

City officials long have described Northcott Court as an “eyesore” on one of the main routes to and from Marshall University and downtown Huntington. The Housing Authority has said the old housing project's multiple buildings, while structurally strong, are outdated and inadequate for the residents.

The authority is emptying Northcott's buildings one by one. The first three buildings, vacant and boarded up since June, are now slated to come down. Others will follow as they are emptied. The authority has said emptying and bringing down the entire complex could take as long as three years.

Demolition of the first three buildings is to be done by Sullivan Excavating of Coal Grove, Ohio, which was awarded an $86,970 contract.

Ultimately, the authority envisions building two 40-unit senior townhouse complexes and 50 family-based units scattered throughout the Fairfield West neighborhood to replace Northcott's 129 units. After Northcott is demolished, its four-acre site will be used for commercial purposes. Fairfield West residents have urged the authority to try luring a grocery store to the property.

Officials say the redevelopment plan will provide much improved housing for Northcott's residents, redefine an area that has been plagued by crime and give a facelift to one of the main arteries into the downtown.

The authority has said that when it's ready to market the Northcott property for commercial use, it will work with the Huntington Area Development Council to help find a tenant or tenants. 

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