In tiny Kenova, West Virginia, site of historic, asbestos-contaminated elementary school is cleaned and economically revitalized

After 100 years of service as a public school in Kenova, West Virginia, the former Kenova Elementary School site will soon help economically revitalize the town in its new incarnation as a Harbor Freight Store.

The 1.8-acre property is located at 1400 Poplar Street in Kenova, along U.S. Route 60 and within the central district of Kenova.

The Kenova school was first constructed in 1910, with multiple building additions added to the facility between the 1920s and early 1980s.

In 2010, due to structural issues within the facility, the Wayne County Board of Education made the decision to close the school and build a new school on nearby property.

The property was transferred to the Town of Kenova, then to the Wayne County Economic Development Authority (WEDA) to pursue new development opportunities.

The WEDA secured an EPA Brownfields Assessment grant in 2014 and utilized part of this funding to fully assess the property for recognized environmental conditions.

The main contaminant of concern was asbestos in multiple building materials, including roofing materials, floor tiles, piping insulation, and chalkboards, which had to be abated before the structure could be demolished.

The WEDA successfully obtained an EPA Brownfields Cleanup grant in 2016, which was used to abate all asbestos containing materials in the building.

After completion of asbestos abatement activities, the WEDA partnered with the WV Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall to compile a Site Marketing Package for the property for interested developers.

The Town of Kenova then took transfer of the property back into their possession and provided funding for complete building demolition.

Demolition activities were completed in 2018.

In early 2022, the Town of Kenova sold the property, and the construction process began to build a new Harbor Freight retail store.

Construction is ongoing, and the new store is expected to open this spring.

Photos courtesy of the Town of Kenova.

See the WV Brownfields Assistance Center at Marshall website.

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