The Powhatan Place (former foundry on Mildred Street) community’s ultimate goal is to create a more livable and sustainable community in Old Town Ranson and Charles Town – a place where residents can live where they work, walk to shop, and have easy access to nature and recreation. In order to lay the groundwork for this ambitious objective, Ranson purchased the former Kidde Brass Foundry site located in the Corridor from United Technologies Corporation (UTC) in 2009 after conducting All Appropriate Inquiries.
Utilizing a significant donation from UTC, Ranson developed a vision for redeveloping this seven acres or more brownfield into a vibrant mixed-use, pedestrian and environmentally friendly LEED-ND certified development named Powhatan Place. Plans for Powhatan Place include:
- 150 units of affordable and market-rate housing
- 30,000 square feet of commercial office space
- 44,000 square feet of retail space
- Recreational spaces and community gardens
The proposed redevelopment of the former Kidde Manufacturing Plant located in Ranson, West Virginia fits into the city’s overall comprehensive planning strategy which focuses on smart incremental growth at its boundaries and strategic reinvestment at its core. The Kidde Manufacturing Plant site represents the largest single opportunity to achieve the latter goal since it is located within two blocks of Ranson’s historic center-Lancaster Circle.
History & Context
The Kidde Manufacturing Plant site, including several adjacent parcels formerly under the same corporate ownership is approximately five acres in size. The site was originally developed in 1892 and later became known as the Powhatan Brass and Iron Works. Over the years the site was utilized for the forging, machining and plating of brass and iron fittings primarily used in the manufacturing of fire-fighting equipment. The site ceased operation in 2004 after changing ownership several times over its history as a result of corporate mergers and acquisitions.
The current owners are currently undertaking a voluntary clean-up process under West Virginia DEP’s Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP) process. The site facility operations area is currently being closed under an industrial cleanup scenario and the former residential properties west of the facility are being closed under a residential cleanup scenario.
The City of Ranson currently owns several other parcels of varying size, adjacent to the Kidde Manufacturing Plant site and would like to see a comprehensive strategy for the redevelopment of the entire area, not a parcel-by- parcel approach that limits its full economic impact on the community.
Proposed Development Strategy
The overall redevelopment strategy is based on a few key community planning and urban design principals in order to achieve success:
- Link the three blocks between Seventh Avenue and Beltline Avenue from Preston Street west to the Norfolk Southern rail line into one comprehensive mixed-use neighborhood.
- Reinforce the community’s desire to establish a traditional walk-able downtown by clustering retail / office mixed-uses along North Mildred Street. The Kidde Manufacturing Plant has nearly 350 feet of road frontage along this important commercial corridor. The plan proposes to reuse some of the existing buildings along with several new buildings designed to create a vibrant and attractive commercial main street environment.
- Create a place-making landmark within the N. Mildred Street Corridor that establishes an identity for the neighborhood. This would be achieved by special streetscaping treatments including extensive landscaping and the integration of rain gardens into public spaces. These elements would highlight the new intersection with the proposed Powhatan Boulevard, that extends through the newly established residential areas and existing neighborhoods beyond.
- Provide an opportunity to develop a mix of housing types to established enough new residential density to support new retail development and create 24 hour vibrancy in the city’s core.
- Integrate rich and diverse public spaces, recreation areas, trails and green infrastructure into the design to create a desirable and environmentally responsive neighborhood. The proposed redevelopment plan meets many of the design criteria as defined by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Certification for Neighborhood Development.