Residents' input sought on Corbin building
HUNTINGTON -- The plan to turn the former Corbin Ltd. garment factory in Westmoreland into a workspace and residence for local artists and artisans will be open for public comment next week.
Coalfield Development Corporation, which is undertaking the project, will host a public meeting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, at the Westmoreland Women's Club at 2962 Bradley Road in Huntington.
"This is a working meeting, and we want people to come and be willing to work," said Brandon Dennison, executive director of Coalfield Development. Dennison's group teaches trade skills and life lessons to high school graduates in Wayne County who come from low income backgrounds.
Coalfield Development is working with Community Works and the Wayne County Economic Development Authority on the redevelopment of the Corbin building.
"We're going to have the architects on hand, and what we want is input from the public on how it's going to look and if we're on the right track," Dennison said. "That's why it's going to be such a long day. By the end, we should have a pretty detailed plan."
The architect on the project is the Mills Group, out of Morgantown, which specializes in historic buildings.
Overall, the goal is to turn the former factory into a creative arts based hub, where artists can live and have space to work.
Huntington City Councilwoman Joyce Clark, who lives in Westmoreland, said she has been working with Dennison and his partners on the project for more than a year.
"I think it's going to be unique; I've never seen anything quite like it," she said. "At first I was skeptical, but (Dennison) sold me on it. I've been associated with him probably for about three years now through the Wayne EDA, and I'm really impressed with what his organization is trying to do with job creation and job training.
"He's got really good ideas, and he's kind of a visionary. He also knows how to go after grants and low-interest loans to make these things happen."
The plan, as it is, would also include workshop space for Coalfield's Quality Jobs Initiative crew members to advance their furniture making skills and small business incubation space.
It would also allow the artists to open their workspaces to the public on occasion.
The Corbin factory at 1040 Vernon St. was purchased by Coalfield from the Wayne EDA for $110,000 through a low interest loan. Coalfield also obtained a $350,000 grant from ArtPlace America to put toward the project.
The plant closed in 2002 just before Corbin declared bankruptcy. It has been vacant ever since.
Next week's meeting will have a lunch break from noon to 1 p.m., though lunch is not provided.
Follow reporter Ben Fields on Twitter @BenFieldsHD.
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