The owner of two regional metal recycling businesses has applied for a special use permit to convert part of the old Radford foundry into the same recycling usage.
Tommy Bishop, co-owner of Radford Trading LLC spoke to city council last week about the roughly 70-acre site that has remained untouched since it was purchased in 2015. The company bought six parcels of the old foundry site in 2015 for $800,000, according to The Roanoke Times archives.
Bishop is the co-owner of scrap metal facilities in Chilhowie and Princeton, West Virginia. The company in Radford would largely focus on processing insulated copper wire and other similar products as well as electronics recycling and processing, something that can’t be done at the other two sites, Bishop said.
The SUP only covers two parcels, both in old factories, and only covers a small portion of the nearly 70 acres Radford Trading owns. Bishop said that there would not be a need to store metal outside, because the buildings have more than enough space to house the entire operation.
He also noted that traffic from the business would pale in comparison to what was coming through when the foundry was up and running, and that the property has been the site of industrial activity since the 1890s, so his business is consistent with what has always been there.
Additionally, Bishop told council that the investment in his new recycling business would likely exceed $5 million and bring eight to 12 “good paying jobs” with the potential for future growth.
Bishop told council he thinks his business could be the anchor tenant in an area that has sat empty since the Grede Foundry closed in 2013. That closure took 250 jobs with it.
Bishop also said that his company has worked to clean up the parts of the property that have been plagued from decades of pollution, and they have also begun the process of working with the Virginia Department of Environmental Equality to further fix the site.
Local politicians have often cited the property as a place for potential businesses to return. Proponents say that it could create new jobs, and generate revenue for Radford through taxes and tenants buying electricity from the city.
Mayor David Horton didn’t say whether he would vote in favor of the business, but said that he was hopeful for what could be done with the property and the positive effect it could have on the west end of Radford.
“I think that the overall site has the potential for a variety of things,” he said. “My goal is to do what’s best for west Radford and the city as a whole.”
The city Planning Commission voted 6-0 (one member was absent) to approve the project at its Feb. 20 meeting, and the council will hold a public hearing at its March 11 meeting. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. at 10 Robertson St.
The council could vote on the SUP that night, but Horton said it’s more likely that the council would wait until the March 25 meeting to make a decision.