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84 Lumber to build at Tabler Station Business Park

April 04, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A company that bills itself as the nation's leading privately-held supplier of building materials and services to professional builders continues to expand operations in the Eastern Panhandle despite a downturn in home construction.

"The mid-Atlantic area has been very good for us," said Jeff Nobers, 84 Lumber Co. vice president of corporate communications on Tuesday.

"Even with the slump we're in, there's still a lot of activity."

"It's a cyclical business ... We know the market will come back," Nobers later added.

Though it may not return to "red hot" numbers of three years ago, Nobers said the company expects market improvement toward the end of 2007.

Headquartered in the southwestern Pennsylvania town of Eighty Four where the company was founded in 1956, Nobers said 84 Lumber aims to take advantage of railroad access afforded at a 10-acre site in Tablers Station Business Park upon relocating from 326 Charles Town Road, just east of Martinsburg off W.Va. 9. The new parcel is four times larger than the current property where the company opened its lumber yard in May 1990 off W.Va. 9, Nobers said.

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"It's a small store by the standards we do business today," Nobers said.

The Berkeley County Planning Commission on Monday evening unanimously approved the 84 Lumber Co.'s preliminary site plan for the new location, but it must wait until water and sewer lines and an access road are completed later this summer or early fall before construction can begin, according to Robert T. "Bob" Crawford, executive director of the Berkeley County Development Authority.

Crawford said the infrastructure improvements required "a number of steps" that the Development Authority had to take in order to advance the project to a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for next week.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito on April 12 is expected to take part in the ceremony for the infrastructure work, which was made possible through a $1.2 million federal grant she helped obtain in 2005, records show. Capito spokesman Jordan Stoick on Tuesday confirmed Capito's plans to attend the ceremony, slated to begin at 3 p.m.

After the infrastructure work is done, Nobers said the company would need only about 120 days to open the location, which typically includes a small showroom, sales office and warehousing facilities.

Nobers confirmed the company similarly relocated its store in Jefferson County, W.Va., to a larger location last year.

The 51-year-old company is the third business to sign a contract to purchase land in the business park, joining A&S Warehouse and the 167th TFR Federal Credit Union, Crawford said.

The Berkeley County Commission has yet to close on its purchase of an 8.6-acre parcel envisioned for a new emergency services facility until infrastructure improvements are completed, County Administrator Deborah Hammond said.

About two weeks ago, the county began a process to determine the EMS facility's anticipated use, Hammond said. The "programming of needs" for the facility and design work are being funded through the county's issue of bonds in 2006, Hammond said. Another bond issue will be needed to pay for construction, she confirmed.

In July 2006, the Berkeley County Commission allocated $200,000 in coal severance revenue to help the Development Authority continue with infrastructure improvements at the business park.

Crawford said sales of the property were slower than expected and had noted the economy had soured a bit and had strained finances as a result.

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