On October 28, 2021, the City of Martinsburg, West Virginia (population 17,500), along with the Berkeley County Council, and the Berkeley County Development Authority announced agreements-in-principle with Richmond, Virginia-based Monument Companies to remediate and revitalize the former Interwoven Mill and Perfection Garment Company sites, which span almost twelve acres of downtown Martinsburg.
“We can look around now and see the revitalization of a great, historic downtown happening here in Martinsburg. These Interwoven and Perfection sites have presented a challenge on King Street for many years,” said Martinsburg Economic & Community Development Director Shane Farthing. “But now their revitalization will improve the area while providing more activity and buying power to support and attract more small businesses, especially along the King Street commercial corridor.”
The resulting project will be a mixed-use, historically-sensitive development of approximately 370,000 square feet to deliver in three phases. Over time, this $80 million project will yield over 5,000 square feet of new commercial space and approximately 387 market-rate residential units in the urban core of Martinsburg.
“For many years, these garment mills drove Martinsburg’s economy. But times change, and these long-vacant sites have been trouble spots for Martinsburg that the City Council, staff, and I have worked hard to address,” stated Martinsburg Mayor Kevin Knowles. “The City is pleased to work with a development team of Monument’s experience and capacity to revitalize these important sites in our community. This project will be transformative. I thank Monument for its investment and City Council, Martinsburg’s staff, and our many partners for making this project happen.”
Monument Companies, founded in 1988, has significant experience in land development, construction, and property management and has successfully undertaken major historic revitalization projects in the Mid-Atlantic.
“Projects like this are why we come to work every day,” stated Monument Companies Principal Chris Johnson. “We have deep experience in revitalizing historic buildings and take great pride in bringing old buildings like these back to life. While these buildings have been vacant for decades, they can be part of the future and can be a meaningful catalyst to the continued revitalization of downtown Martinsburg and the surrounding community.”
Monument’s investment in Martinsburg’s Perfection Garment and Interwoven Mill sites is its first project in West Virginia, spurred by the city’s positive market condition and revitalizing downtown. This project is one of several in Martinsburg spurred by the availability of architecturally interesting sites suitable for the use of state and federal historic tax credits.
Project architect, Erin Barrineau, AIA, is prepared to meet the challenge of adapting a historic building for modern goals: “Architecturally speaking, the opportunity to redevelop this historic property and give it a new life is an absolute no-brainer. These buildings are beautiful examples of their time and former use, and we are excited to preserve something so historic and significant to the community.”
The project benefits from a PILOT agreement whose negotiation with Monument was led by County Council President Copenhaver. “An agreement to bring development to these sites has been years in the making, and we all can see not just by the numbers but by the effect on our community that this is a good deal for everyone involved,” said Copenhaver. “The County and the City have cooperated and coordinated our approaches, and the Development Authority has provided the necessary legal capacity and support to get a good deal done.”
The Berkeley County Development Authority is a key part of the project. Executive Director Sandy Hamilton stated: “This is our community and a strategic opportunity to make the old new again; embracing our history as well as addressing the future needs of our town. The redevelopment of Interwoven and Perfection is a perfect example of the results of working together. Our Board of Directors President Helen Harris always says, ‘It is better to do business in Berkeley’ and we know Monument will not regret its choice to invest in our community. This will revitalize this area and Martinsburg and we are extremely grateful that the Monument Companies chose Berkeley County.”
“Since 2014, we have been working every day to make this project more viable, and we appreciate the help of many partners along the way,” said Martinsburg City Manager Mark Baldwin. “We’re grateful to so many groups, from EPA Region 3 providing a brownfield assessment grant, to the community members on the brownfield grant committee to explore how to use those funds, to our partners at Sustainable Strategies DC and Environmental Resources and Consulting. All this background work in brownfield assessment and strategic planning has helped get us to where we are today. Most importantly, we appreciate Monument’s decision to make such an investment in our community and put these long-blighted properties back to productive use.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the County will provide no tax abatement below the current property values but has agreed that increases in taxation will occur at a predictable level as the property is improved. In addition, the County will receive an upfront $250,000 quality-of-life payment from Monument to support additional improvements within Martinsburg city limits and in the vicinity of the project. The privately-led project must still meet all requirements of federal, state, and local laws regarding land remediation and development.
“I am so proud of the Martinsburg community for continuing to absolutely knock it out of the park by revitalizing their city and fueling economic development,” Governor Jim Justice said. “This project is the perfect example of the goodness that comes when we work together with private industry to revitalize and preserve our historic buildings so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come. I thank all those involved for all the hard work they have put into this incredible project. My Department of Economic Development stands ready to help municipalities across West Virginia replicate the successes of Martinsburg’s strategy!”
The Interwoven property has been owned since 2014 by Larry and Kelly Wright, who purchased the property at a tax sale and have had multiple opportunities to sell the property, but chose to wait for a purchaser whose plans would benefit the surrounding community.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that will make this property a positive, and to turn it over to an experienced team with the skills and capital to make it great once again. We appreciate all the hard work of the city over the years, and the support of all the partners for making this possible,” said Larry Wright.
This development project results from many years of behind-the-scenes work by the City of Martinsburg and the property owners. This project probably would not have happened without EPA-funded work and a whole host of partners to assess environmental conditions, quantify remediation needs, and develop site redevelopment recommendations.
“We are really excited to get started on this project. The city, county, and state have done a great job getting this project prepared for redevelopment. It isn’t very often that you can be part of a project that can be this transformative. We are glad that we can be a part of it,” said Tom Dickey, Principal of the Monument Companies.
This revitalization of the Perfection Garment and Interwoven Mill brownfields follows several other brownfield or historic property revitalization projects undertaken within Martinsburg in the past 24 months, including the former Moler Avenue Ice Plant, the Shenandoah Hotel, the historic streetscape of East Martin Street, improvements to Matthews Foundry, and purchase of the Old Federal Building.
Photos courtesy of City of Martinsburg.