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Avtex Business Park officially released for redevelopment
By: Warren County, Va. Economic Development Authority

The American Viscose Administration building was one of first pieces of property released and will be ground zero for the September 20, 2014 celebration of release of the 160-acre Royal Phoenix Business Park. 2008 File Photo Roger Bianchini/Courtesy CassAviation
September 16, 2014, Front Royal, Virginia: On September 20, 2014, one of Virginia’s largest Superfund Sites will be returned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the Economic Development Authority. After 25 years, the site that once housed the American Viscose Corporation and Avtex Fibers; that was added to the National Priorities List for Superfund Sites in 1986; and that was abruptly shut down by Virginia’s Attorney General Mary Sue Terry and the state Water Control Board in 1989 for ongoing pollutant violations will be returned to its community in Front Royal, Virginia. The Economic Development Authority now prepares its marketing and redevelopment initiative.
The community is organizing a celebration to mark the milestone event. On Saturday, September 20, 2014, there will be a festival on the site (400 Kendrick Lane, Front Royal, Virginia) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with exhibits, site tours, vendors, music and children’s activities. The public is welcome and surviving retirees and former employees are encouraged to participate as special guests.
“It’s been a long, daunting and often discouraging process,” said Patty Wines, Chairwoman of the Economic Development Authority. “Every month at our Board meetings, John Torrence [FMC site manager] would report to us on each tiny piece of progress. There were days we thought we weren’t going to get here. But, come take a look. We’re here! Truly, this is a time for celebration.”
“We are charting a new era for the Avtex site,” said Front Royal Mayor Tim Darr, “and the future looks bright.”
In the fall of 2012, the physical clean-up and remediation was completed, and the process of reporting and cataloging all of the work began. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has completed its audit of the findings and, on September 20, 2014 will officially return the site to the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority – they PROMISE!!!
In 2001, the Economic Development Authority (EDA) rehabilitated the existing administration building through the Virginia Historic Preservation Trust. This building now houses the offices of the EDA and other tenants, including the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Planning Commission.
How we got here
During the remediation process: 65 acres of manufacturing buildings were removed; 200 tractor trailer loads of asbestos were removed; 4 fly ash basins were closed; 5 sulfate basins were closed; 11 viscose basins were closed; 18,000 gallons of fuel oil were recycled; 25,000 tons of steel were recycled; thousands of tons of steel, bronze and copper were recycled; 15,000 tons of coal were recovered; 1-million cubic yards of fly ash were used for basin fill and grading; and hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete and brick rubble were used for onsite drainage and fill.
In addition, 33 acres were developed into community soccer fields and a world-class skateboard park, and the EDA and FMC donated $75,000 worth of glass lab ware from the Avtex laboratory to the public schools. The next project associated with the site is to fund and outfit the existing on-site museum, the Shenandoah Center for Heritage and the Environment, chronicling the history of the rich story of the manufacturing operations, the people who worked at the plant and the state-of-the-art clean-up and remediation process.
Looking east in this 2008 aerial photo, the released property lies between railroad tracks running from bottom left of photo and the tree line at the eastern border with R-MA campus. The remaining riverside land earmarked as park land is expected to be released within next two years.
History
Beginning in 1940, American Viscose, and later Avtex Fibers, manufactured rayon, polypropylene and polyester for use in garments, parachute cording, aircraft tires and eventually missile nose cones. At its peak, the plant employed 3,000 people from the Northern Shenandoah Valley and became one of the region’s premiere employers.
The site encompassed 500 acres of land situated in the middle of the Town of Front Royal, along the Shenandoah River, at the base of the Shenandoah National Park.
The wastes from the process included viscose, sulfate sludge and fly ash. In 1986 the site was listed on the federal National Priorities List of Superfund Sites. And, in 1989 the site was shut down due to environmental infractions. The impact was devastating to the remaining 500 local employees, the local economy and the community as a whole.
Between 1989 and 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency performed emergency actions, site-wide remedial investigation, and removed high-impact buildings from the site.
The groundwork for site remediation, ownership and conservation easements was laid out by the courts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 1998, FMC Corporation, the lone surviving former owner, took over remediation of the site and in 2000 the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority took title of the property.
The Superfund clean-up process began and included: demolition and decontamination of buildings; sewer plugging and removal; sulfate/fly ash basin closures; old landfill improvements; viscose basin remediation; soil and groundwater remediation; wastewater treatment plant operations.
At the persistence of two local citizens, Bill Barnett and Fred Foster, and with the help of Senators John Warner and Chuck Robb and Congressman Frank Wolf, and the Environmental Protection Agency, federal money was allocated to continue the clean-up and remediation activities. A Master Plan was designed and stakeholders’ meetings were conducted between 1999 and 2001. The Community was invited in to participate in the visioning process for the future of the site.
A redevelopment plan was designed and approved by the Town of Front Royal and Warren County leadership and included commercial/industrial development on 170 acres east of the railroad tracks; active recreation (soccer fields) on 33 acres of pristine property at the southwestern corner of the site; and passive recreation and wildlife conservancy on the 240 acres west of the railroad tracks.
Some of the intergovernmental resources used for abatement, demolition and rehabilitation include:
  • FY 99 $275,000 HUD EDI Grant
  • FY 00 $5 million DOD, FUDS, ACOE
  • FY 00 $925,000 HUD EDI Grant
  • FY 00 $100,000 EPA SRI Grant
  • FY 01 $7 million DOD, Water Resources, ACOE
  • FY 01 $644,000 HUD EDI Grant
  • FY 01 $100,000 Virginia Derelict Structure Grant
  • Fy13 $50,000 Brownfields Remediation Grant, VA DEQ, VEDP

Visit the Warren County, Va. Economic Development Authority on the web.

- From a release


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Avtex Business Park officially released for redevelopment
By: Warren County, Va. Economic Development Authority
   
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