Local developers purchase steel property

The failed effort led by New York billionaire Ira Rennert to operate a network of steel mills, including the more than 100-year old Wheeling Corrugating operations in Beech Bottom, took another unique turn this week when ownership of the more than 600-acre site came to rest in the hands of area business and development leaders.

It came about, however, only after a Los Angeles-based international real estate investment company, led by Columbus native and Ohio State University graduate Michael Hackman, was brought into the deal.

When contacted last week by The Times Leader about the transaction and plans for re-development of the prime property, which rests between the Ohio River and direct access to the major transportation artery known as W.Va. Rt. 2, executives with the Los Angeles office of Hackman Capital Partners LLC confirmed they were unable to provide details of the deal at that point.

The highly complex structure of the deal had included numerous non-disclosure agreements which were only considered relaxed after certain transaction details were addressed Wednesday, according to several Hackman executives.

Hackman remains involved in the deal.

Executives there confirmed they plan to provide access to a well established and financially solid network of potential customers, providing a platform with worldwide reach.

The exploding presence of energy related businesses in the local region proved to be the key to reconnecting control of the business conducted on this more than half-mile long section of riverfront section to area developers, particularly those whose business interests stem from development of the massive resources only now being able to be tapped from within the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays.

The opportunity to put control of the property – particularly a large section of about 150 acres of prime level ground into the hands of local business development leaders was simply too good to pass up, according to Paul Ford, the man behind the complex deal.

Ford said he considered the property and its highly desirable access to major transportation options of both river transport via the Ohio River and its immediate access to major highways in three states, made it too important to ignore – particularly because of the influx and coming needs of the oil and gas industries.

Ownership of the property is now officially in the hands of the local developers via the effort being led by Ford through the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle.

Loccisano can be reached at kimfromthetl@gmail.com.