Former shoe factory in Preston could hold new business

KINGWOOD — A company has expressed interest in leasing the former shoe factory building outside Kingwood.

Robbie Baylor, executive director of the Preston County Economic Development Authority (PCEDA), reported on the property last week to the Preston County Commission. She said the property was  rebranded the Grace Chapel property.

The building was erected in 1970, using tax-free bonds backed by the county, for the Kinney Shoe company. The plant closed in 1986. In 1995 Sheidow Bronze entered into a lease-purchase agreement.

But at the end of the lease, the company, now Matthews, didn’t  take advantage of the purchase option. That put the property back in the possession of the Preston County Commission, and in 2017 the county gave it to the development authority.

The nearly 44,000-square-foot building  sat empty since Matthews moved out last year, but Baylor was contacted by a potential tenant.

“I have been getting emails  since July,” Baylor said. “As soon as that building’s ready, they want to be in it, and I don’t think that’s going to change.”

She could identify who wants the building, but said the interested company, “would be an existing Preston County company expanding.”

Using a $2.2 million Abandoned Mine Lands pilot grant, work is  under way on the roof,  to repair the parking lot and do electrical work, Baylor said. The property was entered in the Division of Environmental Protection’s voluntary remediation program. The goal is to have all the work done by the end of the year.

PCEDA also is looking at creating building pads on the  back portion of the 14.4-acre property.  It is looking at the approximately 5 acres in the back as a separate property from that where  the building sits.

Building sites could potentially be built in front of the building, too, Baylor said. But the authority is also open to selling all of it as one parcel.

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