Martinsville gets grant from EPA to clean up 'brownfields'

$300k grant will clear way for development of old buildings

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Martinsville just received a big boost in its effort to revitalize its old, abandoned buildings.

The city was recently awarded a $300,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to go toward analyzing and cleaning "brownfields," as sites that may contain hazardous chemicals are called.

Martinsville's most notable site is a former furniture factory that was destroyed by a fire, but the city also plans to analyze the Chief Tassel building and the Rives Theatre, which is still in use.

Assistant City Manager Wayne Knox says this analysis is the first step developers ask for before they can renovate and reuse old buildings. He calls this grant a vital assist in turning Martinsville's eyesores into eye-popping developments.

"That's where a lot of people go wrong. They can't envision," Knox said. "They remember what it was and ask, 'What are you going to do with that?' It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of money, but you look at it and think what could be."

The EPA had already granted Martinsville $400,000 to analyze and clean brownfields in 2015.

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