A year after buying two vacated high school football stadiums, Hancock County commissioners have decided to sell the stadiums and a third property to the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle.
Commissioners approved a contract with the BDC last week that stipulates a purchase price of $500,000 for all three properties-Newell Memorial Field, the old Jimmy Carey Stadium in Weirton and the former Weirton Heights Volunteer Fire Station at 1331 Pennsylvania Ave.
As owner, the BDC will continue to market the properties for economic development purposes, while commissioners will retain a "security interest" in the properties until they are sold or leased to a private entity, BDC Executive Director Pat Ford said. Commissioners will not be paid the purchase price until the BDC sells any or all of the properties, but would receive 90 percent of the net proceeds of any sale that exceeds the agreed-upon $500,000 price.
The former Weirton Heights Volunteer Fire Station, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave., includes two garage bays, an office and restrooms.
"In all cases, (commissioners) will, in effect, have a lien on the property. ... Once we sell each property and give them the money, they will release their security interest on that property," he said.
Commissioner Dan Greathouse said the BDC, as the recognized economic development authority for Hancock and Brooke counties, is better equipped to conduct such business.
"We need to have someone who can market those properties. We're not marketers of property, and we have every confidence that the BDC will deal with this correctly," Greathouse said. "They're the experts in this field."
Greathouse said he hopes the sale will yield results in the form of jobs. "I think it bodes well for the county. Things are moving forward," he said. "We've had some nibbles out there."
The purchase agreement stipulates that the properties be used "primarily" for industrial and commercial purposes, and specifically bars agricultural or residential uses. Gambling and the sale of alcohol also are forbidden under the contract unless offered as part of a business that derives at least 80 percent of its revenue from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages.
Commissioners bought the two stadium properties from the Hancock County Board of Education for $400,000 in December 2012.
Ford said the future for all three sites looks good because they fit the size - 3.5 acres to 20 acres - and the location that prospective developers are seeking.