Industry’s History: Industrial Park’s First Site Built in ’40s

Morgantown Dominion Post
22 August 2011
By Tracy Eddy

The first plant at the Morgantown Industrial Park site — off River Road — was built in less than a year.
Ground was broken December 1940.

A few houses surround Dupont Chemical plant (left). The river is located on the far side of the plant. Automobiles can be seen in the parking lots. [Note: The plant received coal by river barge, as well as shipments on the Monongahela Railroad.] - Photo courtesy of W.Va. Regional History Collection, WVU Libraries

By November 1941, 825 acres of farmland near the Monongahela River had become the Morgantown Ordnance Works — a plant to produce ammonia for army ammunition.

The staff of the Morgantown Ordnance Works (top) stands in front of the building in this undated photo.  The building behind them now houses Enrout's administrative offices (below). - Photo courtesy of W.Va. Regional History Collection, WVU Libraries

Today, the Morgantown Industrial Park is home to more than 20 businesses — plants and offices, as well as two Marcellus shale wells. Chemtura, Dominion Hope, Central Supply and a WVU laundry facility are among the businesses at the park. Also, The Make-A-Wish Foundation has office space there.

Maj. Gen. C. T. Harris Jr. (left), of the Ordnance Department, and Lt. Col. John Huling seen outside Morgantown Ordnance Works. - Photo courtesy of W.Va. Regional History Collection, WVU Libraries

The park is privately owned and is in an unincorporated part of Monongalia County.

Kevin Adrian — who coowns the park and Enrout Properties with his brother, Glenn Adrian, and William Bland — said the Morgantown Industrial Park is a work in progress.

The majority of the businesses working from the park were already there, he said, but there was some neglect as well. Older, unused facilities were run down, roads needed repaving and the park needed to be restructured to allow for expansion.

That work is being done now — some of it with Tax Increment Financing (TIF).


History of the park

According to “The Monongalia Story” by Earl L. Core, construction of the Morgantown Ordnance Works cost more than $37 million in 1940. The original plant had 13 major structures and a score of smaller units.

At the peak of its operations, the plant had more than 1,400 employees. About 18,700 tons of ammonia were produced monthly. Alcohol, hexamine (which can be used as an antibiotic) and formaldehyde were also produced there.

Operations were suspended Aug. 20, 1945.

According to “The Monongalia Story,” the Morgantown Community Association paid the U.S. General Services Administration $1.25 million for 600 acres of the property. Morgantown Ordnance Works, Inc. — which was owned by J.W. Ruby — took over the property and turned it into an industrial park.

Enrout Properties LLC owns 450 acres of the original industrial park, Adrian said. Local developer Dave Biafora owns 50 acres near the entrance of the Morgantown Industrial Park.

There are three ways to access the park — the rail system, the Monongahela River and the road. Adrian said all three are still used.

Don Reinke, executive director of the Monongalia County Development Authority, said the Morgantown Industrial Park is the largest industrial park in the county. There aren’t many in Mon, he said, because of the topography — industrial parks require large, flat tracts of developable land.

Other business or light industrial parks in the county include the Chaplin Hill Business Park, Chaplin Hill Road; the Fort Martin Industrial Park, Maidsville; the Morgantown Research and Office Park, near the Morgantown Municipal Airport; and the 90-acre park proposed near the airport.

Today’s park

Flexible — that’s one way to describe today’s industrial park, Adrian said. The park is privately owned. Space there is open to any business — including offices, light manufacturing plants and warehouses — as long as they’re federally and state permitted, he said.

Businesses can lease or buy space in the park, Adrian said. Most that buy space construct their own facilities, he said, but will often ask that the site be “pad ready” — meaning excavation and other prep work is done.

The Morgantown Industrial Park in Westover (above) as seen from the top of the park. Some of the original buildings in the park are being razed.  - Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post

If businesses choose to lease the space, Enrout will work with them to develop appropriate facilities.

Very few of the original facilities are left at the park, Adrian said — the red brick building where Enrout’s offices are located is one.

The company is tearing down some of the old structures to make way for any possible new facilities, he said. Roads are being resurfaced and a new road — Rail Street — is being built to open up more of the park for development.

The Monongalia County Commission approved a TIF for the Morgantown Industrial Park in 2008.

TIF uses the projected increase in property tax revenue created by developing the area to assist in paying for development and/or redevelopment projects, according to the West Virginia Development Office.

The project plan initially indicated TIF money — up to $14,175,000 — would be used for basic infrastructure, such as roadways, sidewalks and utilities. The County Commission recently approved an amendment to the plan, allowing the TIF money to be used to raze old buildings, as well.

Adrian said no TIF money has been used for demolition yet.

Enrout's administrative offices today - Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post