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Berkeley Co. group to buy Criswell parcel

December 06, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Members of the Berkeley County Development Authority unanimously voted Friday to move forward with the purchase of a 326-acre parcel of land that is expected to one day house an industrial park.

Authority members authorized paying $4.1 million for the land, which is known as the Criswell property and is between U.S. 11 and Interstate 81 off Tabler Station Road, south of Martinsburg.

A consortium of nine banks, led by F&M, will finance the purchase, said Bob Crawford, executive director of the Development Authority.

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"This is probably the most desirable industrial piece of ground in the county because of its closeness to the interstate, the size, the proximity to the airport and the fact that utilities are already basically there," Crawford said.

Although he could not release specifics, Crawford said that potential tenants include a processing firm and a distribution firm. Those companies are also examining other possible sites outside of the county, Crawford said. Officials with the companies have indicated that if they decide to open in Berkeley County, they will do so in the Criswell property, he said.

Rather than platting out the land into specific parcels, the Authority will try to remain flexible to meet tenants' needs, Crawford said.

Authority members met Friday afternoon and discussed the purchase for a little more than an hour during a closed-door executive session.

Afterward, Crawford said the parcel was originally believed to be about 219 acres, but a survey revealed it consisted of 326 acres. Cumbo Yard, another county industrial park that houses Quad Graphics and several other large businesses, consists of 629 acres.

By 5 p.m. Monday, the Authority must notify the Criswell family of its decision. Closing could possibly be held on Dec. 29, Crawford said.

A concept plan remains among the items that need to be done. A final decision has not been made on what to do about an old, vacant home on the property, Crawford said.

The property fronts U.S. 11 and also will front a possible new road proposed by state highway officials. Construction of that road, which would connect the Tabler Station Road interchange off Interstate 81 to Novak Drive, might hinge on what happens with the Criswell property.

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