RADFORD – The City of Radford has approved an option agreement on a future purchase of a portion of the now-defunct foundry property on West Main Street.
The 80-acre site, owned by Virginia Castings, LLC, has long been vacant.
“The six-month option agreement with VCI will provide an opportunity for updated and additional environmental testing on the site,” according to Radford Director of Communications Jenni Goodman. “At the end of the option period, the city can choose to purchase the property.”
“We are working to update [environmental] testing and that will let us know risk and potential limitations before we finalize our purchase,” said Radford Mayor David Horton. “We are engaging into a due diligence period to better understand the dynamics of the property. This site is an opportunity for business, industry, and more. An area as large as Bisset Park is a major advantage and is a good move that will generate revenue and community growth.”
According to Goodman, the city will pursue grants for environmental evaluation, remediation, site access, clean-up, and redevelopment with assistance from the commonwealth.
“We are taking the necessary steps to clean up and redevelop the former foundry site which will bring economic development, job creation, and investment to our community,” said Kim Repass, Economic Development Director. “The ability to acquire new industry and commercial businesses on this property will be a game changer for the City of Radford.”
“This is an important step for Radford,” he said on Thursday. “While it has some challenges, we feel that if we complete this purchase, the property will be useful to Radford’s economic future after sitting underutilized for decades. With the help of the commonwealth, the federal government, and other potential outside resources, we can improve this property which already lies within our community, for the good of Radford’s citizens.
“If we don’t take control of our future, no one else is coming in to fix things for us,” he added. “This helps us build the tomorrow we want to see.”
The option includes the larger, eastern portion of the former foundry site, not the western portion that includes the empty Grede building and a parking area.
According to the city’s statement, the foundry has been a part of Radford’s industrial base since 1880 as the Radford Iron and Coal Company. According to the city, it employed approximately 1,500 persons at its peak in the late 1970’s. The foundry produced an array of ductile iron products from water/sewer pipes to auto parts until they closed their doors in 2013. The site has been vacant for the past decade.