Eleven-hundred acres of former Weirton Steel property has been sold in a move that will have a big impact on the city of Weirton, West Virginia and the surrounding area.
The former machine shop at ArcelorMittal, which has been vacant for a decade, will be the first to see new life. A Canada-based company that manufactures equipment for the oil and gas industry will now call the Ohio Valley home. It will be Bidell Company‘s first U.S.-based operation.
In February, 1,100 acres of land owned by ArcelorMittal was acquired by the Frontier Group, which in turn sold the former machine shop building and a few acres to the Business Development Corporation (BDC) of the Northern Panhandle. A short while later, the Bidell Company signed a 15-year lease agreement with the BDC.
“This has to be the single largest catalytic real estate transaction in Weirton, probably since the announcement that they would build this mill here,” said Pat Ford, executive director of the BDC of the Northern Panhandle. “Just visualize what the mill has done for this community and take that same real-estate footprint and imagine what could be here, particularly when you look at how we been able diversify our economy. The opportunities are endless.”
“ArcelorMittal is pleased to have closed on the sale of approximately 1,100 acres of property in Weirton, W.Va. to the Frontier Group of Companies,” ArcelorMittal CEO John Brett said. “We achieved our goal of finding a purchaser with extensive experience in redeveloping a former heavy industrial site into a more productive location that benefits the city and region. We appreciate the patience of our employees and the Weirton community while we finalized this important transaction.”
Weirton Steel Corporation was an integrated steel mill founded in 1909 by Ernest T. Weir, who built Weirton Steel into one of the world’s leading steel producers.
In 1929, Weir merged Weirton Steel with Detroit’s Michigan Steel and Cleveland’s M. A. Hanna Company to form National Steel Corporation. National Steel quickly took a place among the nation’s largest steel producers.
However, toward the end of the century Weirton Steel had fallen on hard times. In the early 1980s it was purchased from National Steel by the employees, thus at that time, making it the world’s largest Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
This was not enough to ensure the long-term viability of the company. It finally went bankrupt in the early 21st century just short of its 100th birthday. By court order, the assets were auctioned with most being acquired by ISG. ISG then formed a new division called ISG Weirton Steel. On April 5, 2005, ISG completed a merger with Mittal Steel. Then again in 2006, Mittal Steel completed a merger with Arcelor thus resulting in a new company known as Arcelor Mittal.
Historic photo shows Weirton Steel in operation (year and author unknown).