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Roundhouse included in new Martinsburg downtown development district

August 26, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg City Council on Monday voted unanimously to include the historic B&O roundhouse and shops complex in a newly created development district designed to attract new business downtown.

In a phone interview after the meeting, Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority chairman Clarence E. "CEM" Martin said the city readily agreed to include the historic property in the district, which provides downtown business owners a 10 percent credit toward their city business and occupation tax bills.

"It was just one of those things that fell through the cracks," he said.

A separate ordinance adopted earlier this summer provides any new business opening within the city of Martinsburg a 75 percent credit toward its business and occupation tax obligation in the first year of operation. The credit would reduce by increments of 25 percent until the fourth year, when the business would be expected to pay the full amount of the tax on gross sales.

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Roundhouse Authority officials have hoped to attract a commercial tenant as part of a plan to convert the former industrial site into a place for public events, trade shows, museum space and other activities at the 13.6-acre property, which is two blocks east of North Queen Street.

In addition to the city's tax credit, a consultant has been hired by the Roundhouse Authority to determine how much money can be generated from the sale of tax credits earned from about $8 million spent to restore the historic complex.

Martin estimated the tax credits potentially could generate more than $1.6 million, which would help pay for needed utility improvements, bathrooms and overall accessibility to the commercial space being eyed in what is known as the Bridge & Machine Shop.

Built after the Civil War ended, the 19th-century national historic landmark replaced the original complex, which was burned by Confederate troops. The first nationwide labor strike in 1877 began at the current facilities.

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