Members of the Eastern Regional Airport Authority gathered Tuesday in the parking lot of the former Ralph Lauren/Polo warehouse and distribution center in the airport’s business park “to get the lay of the land.” Pictured from left are members Dennis Barron, Tana Burkhart, Ken Collinson, Steve Cox and Daryl Bryarly, the authority’s attorney Kin Sayre, and authority chairman Rick Wachtel.
MARTINSBURG - Members of the Eastern Regional Airport Authority toured the property of the former Ralph Lauren/Polo distribution center in the airport business park Tuesday before their regular meeting "to get the lay of the land."
Rick Wachtel, chairman of the Airport Authority, would not say why the members were looking over the grounds, but the members were interested in the property's bounds.
The owner of the building, Cumberland, Maryland, -based S. Schwab Co., has been in negotiations with the authority for several months, but because the discussions have been held in executive session, the details of the negotiations have not been made public.
However, from the discussion among authority members Tuesday while at the property, Schwab apparently wants to expand the existing structure.
Because there was a quorum of authority members and they were there to discuss business, Wachtel convened a meeting of the authority in the parking lot of the Schwab building. The group recessed their meeting after the brief walkthrough and reconvened at the airport terminal to conduct their regular monthly business meeting.
As with all the properties in the business park, the Airport Authority retains ownership of the land and leases it to the owners of the structures built on the lots.
Schwab's land lease with the authority is $50,000 a year for about 25 acres. The 180,000-square-foot Schwab building at 748 Novak Drive includes offices, a warehouse and distribution facilities.
It originally housed the Ralph Lauren/Polo distribution center, which closed in December 2010. The company consolidated its distribution operations to a facility in Greensboro, North Carolina, that the company owned.
It sat vacant until Charles "Chuck" Asbury II leased the building. The Gerrardstown native planned to renovate the cavernous warehouse to accommodate DC Corp, an information technology data center, which he founded in 2011. With U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., giving the keynote address, DC Corp had a gala "ground breaking" for the new company in October 2013.
DC Corp ceased operations at the site in November of last year.
It has been vacant since then.
Any new use of the property would have to get the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration because it is within the airport's footprint.
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