An innovative plan has been unveiled as part of a raft of initiatives in economically distressed Appalachian coalfield communities to both spur new jobs and create new development, much of it focused on renewable energy.
Designed by WXY architecture + urban design and Edward Tucker Architects along with SB Friedman for the community-based group Coalfield Development, leader of the new ACT Now Coalition in southern West Virginia, the plan promises to revitalize a long-closed and badly polluted factory into a hub for solar logistics and job training run by Solar Holler.
The Black Diamond project is just one of eight new projects advanced by Coalfield Development through the ACT Now Coalition, short for the Appalachian Climate Technologies Coalition. “The ACT Now region of southern WV is recognized by the U.S. Intergovernmental Council on Energy Communities as the most economically distressed and coal-impacted area in America,” according to the community-based nonprofit.
WXY’s director of urban design, David Vega-Barachowitz, describes the reimagining of the Black Diamond Factory site in Wayne County, W.V., to create the new Black Diamond Hub for Sustainable Economic Development. “The redevelopment plan includes a headquarters for expanding solar companies, recycling and reuse businesses, and bio-based manufacturing,” he explains. “We applaud Coalfield Development’s bold vision for the future of this site as a way to unlock investment in West Virginia and advance the new energy economy.”
Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the Black Diamond Factory project among $62.8 million total in new grant investments for West Virginia led by ACT Now Coalition, hailed by experts as “one of largest investments in climate technology ever for the state.”
Huntington-based Edward Tucker Architects and WXY worked with Coalfield to develop a conceptual plan and design for the Black Diamond property, partnering with GAI Consultants, and SB Friedman Development Advisors. Images and ideas for the transformation brought the grant proposal to life.
The ACT Now Coalition is one of only 21 winners nationwide in the highly competitive “Build Back Better Regional Challenge,” a $1 billion national initiative organized by U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The national challenge “aims to boost economic recovery from the pandemic and rebuild American communities, including those grappling with decades of disinvestment,” says EDA. Visit https://eda.gov/arpa/
build-back-better/ for more details.