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Riverwalk project moves ahead

PROCTORVILLE — The long-awaited Riverwalk is getting closer to bringing hundreds of jobs to the county and Tri-State as the economic cards begin to fall into place.

Already there are three potential tenants for the first phase of the four-building health-technology-retail complex.

“We are excited,” Michael Manns of Riverwalk LLC, said. “We have been crawling through all you have to do, permits, and it has been a while. When we get this first building up, people will see it will really happen.”

Manns anticipates getting commitments from the possible tenants in the next 60 to 90 days. Riverwalk LLC has teamed up with Equity, a nationally known real estate-brokerage service agency.

“With our new partner we will be attracting nationally,” Manns said. “We want to do an Easton-type project in our area. If it goes as planned, we could end up with 1,000 new jobs. That is our ultimate goal. We lose a lot of talent that graduates from Marshall University and Ashland Community and Technical College. There is nothing for them here.”

The first phase, which may break ground in May, will be a 35,000-square foot three-story office building.

“There will be some retail, some commercial, some medical offices, maybe some imaging … we are not for sure, diagnostic,” he said. “We are still working on the details.”

Riverwalk has applied for a close to $500,000 Community Development Block Grant.

“(Getting that grant) is based on job creation,” Mann said. “We are hoping to create 100 new jobs. The grant money is tied to job creation. We have to guarantee those jobs will be created over a certain time period.”

Those will be permanent jobs on top of the temporary construction jobs the project will create.

“Eventually we hope to have retirement living,” he said. “Right now we are trying to get this first building going.”

The development is on acreage between Indian Guyan Creek and the 31st Street Bridge in Proctorville. Long-time goals for the project include a possible marina as well as upscale housing and retail options.

At its Thursday meeting the Lawrence County Commissioners approved waiving up to $100,000 in sewer tap fees for Riverwalk.

“This is something we have done for other businesses in the area,” Commissioner Jason Stephens said.

It allows Riverwalk to leverage that with other funding, Stephens said.

“This are trying to get into a new round of grant funding,” he said.

Mann projects that the first building could be ready by the end of 2011.