Locals near Horsehead make way for Shell property

The Shell logo is pictured outside a Shell petrol station in central London on January 17, 2014. Shell issued a severe profits warning on January 17 blaming exploration costs, pressures across the oil industry and disruption to Nigerian output, sparking a sharp drop in its share price. The London-listed energy group said in a surprise trading update that fourth-quarter profits were set to be "significantly lower than recent levels of profitability".  AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT        (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)Power Source

By Anya Litvak

David Swan has lived at his Beaver County home on Pleasant Drive, near the former Horsehead Holding Corp. zinc smelter, for 32 years. Soon it will be the property of Shell Chemical LP.

About a year ago, Mr. Swan learned that his house and the 11 acres surrounding it were on the slice of land where Shell wanted to put a new ramp off the parkway. The Dutch petrochemical giant offered Mr. Swan a deal — an option to buy his property if Shell decided to proceed with its tentative plans for an ethane cracker in Potter Township.

On Thursday, Mr. Swan got the call from his attorney.

Shell announced Friday that it will exercise its option to purchase the Horsehead property in Potter Township, a 340-acre parcel, and several adjacent parcels as it continues its evaluation of an Appalachian ethane cracker for the site.

Mr. Swan will likely move out of his home in the next month.

“I don’t want to go,” he said. “I like where I live. I live in the country and two minutes from now I can be at a mall.”

But, like half a dozen other residents and businesses in the vicinity, Mr. Swan will be vacating in the coming months.

Those selling their properties declined to say how much they’re getting from Shell, but Bull Davis, co-owner of the Midway Bar & Grill on Frankfort Road, said, “They made it very convincing.”

Mr. Davis’ bar has been the local hangout for working-class patrons since it opened in 1947. The spot was named after the midpoint between Monaca and a small village near Nova Chemicals, he said. Mr. Davis and co-owner Mark Petrik bought it in 1987 and more than half a dozen members of the waitstaff have been there since then.

The bar will close sometime before the end of December.

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