Mullens said the project could be classified as urban renewal: "Take a bad situation and make it good again."
Dale Oxley was the meeting's featured speaker. Oxley is owner of Modern Home Concepts in Hurricane and president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Charleston, which -- despite the name -- is headquartered in South Charleston.
Referring to the Tremont Street project, Oxley said he and Mullens had exchanged correspondence about the city getting into the home-building business.
"We were concerned that if the city of South Charleston decided to get into building, it would actually drive many of our members, who are in South Charleston, out of business," Oxley said. "We worked through that.
"I was hoping to hear it was the third and final house the city sold, not the first. South Charleston can see how difficult it has been to be in the business."
Moving on to his prepared remarks, Oxley said that Putnam County has been known for its housing and South Charleston for its business climate. But no cheap level land remains in Putnam County so "the playing field has come back towards Charleston or South Charleston," he said.
Oxley said it has become clear to him that in the future, energy efficiency is going to play an increasingly important role in home construction.
"In five, seven or ten years you're going to see an equation where the percent of debt to income won't be the only thing used for a mortgage," Oxley predicted. "Soon our energy costs will exceed or meet our mortgage. So people will ask, 'Can I afford a house with this mortgage cost and this energy cost?'"
South Charleston will find a niche market if it requires new homes to be energy efficient, he said.
"Austin, Texas, now requires any new residence or new building to be built to Energy Star certifications and new buildings to LEED certifications," he said, referring to Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design standards.
"It's amazing how far behind the building code you can be and still be compliant," Oxley said. "We're still building in West Virginia t the 2004 code level. Next summer you'll see the 2009 energy code become relevant."
Also at the meeting:
* Mullens welcomed Steve White and his son, Ryan, who have opened a law office at 332 6th Ave., South Charleston.
* Bob Anderson, the city's business recruiter, introduced Kim May and Jessi Adams, United Bank branch managers.Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.