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Tag Archive: Growth

  1. Bridgeport, WV’s, White Oaks Continues Serving as Place of Business and Continued Growth

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    Bridgeport’s White Oaks development has seen much growth since its beginnings in 2008, with even more progress planned for the future this year. Austin Thrasher, White Oaks project manager, said the three-phase development project began right at the beginning of a recession. “It was almost a terrible time to start the development. We had a few years of slow (progression) but things started to grow and increase. I’d say the past five years has been the best growth we’ve had,” he said.

    Thrasher said the thought behind the development was to create a place to have support services for the then-new United Hospital Center, the expanding FBI and oil and gas services. From that it has grown into much more, he said. The White Oaks planned business community comprises 470 acres that are home to offices, FBI support services, medical support services, oil and gas businesses, national retailers, restaurants and vital amenities.

    Located at the intersection of Interstate 79 and W.Va. Route 279, the busy corridor sees an estimated average of 48,500 vehicles per day. It is adjacent to the $350 million United Hospital Center, at the doorstep of the FBI’s CJIS Division and the Biometric Center of Excellence. White Oaks is also located in the heart of Marcellus Shale play.

    Thrasher said White Oaks is divided into three separate phases, with work continuing to progress in all three. Within the last year, some of the development’s newest additions include the Clear Mountain Bank, Minard’s Spaghetti Inn Express and Dyer Group. This time last year, Thrasher said construction was still ongoing for the Clear Mountain Bank as well as the Dyer Group facility. Minard’s now occupies the area in Retail Village Building 1 that formally housed Hermosilla’s Deli.

    Nick Dyer, insurance producer and director of bonding, said the move from their Clarksburg location to the White Oaks Development was seamless. “It’s been a fantastic transition for us. Everything has gone very smoothly and all of our neighbors here at the White Oaks development have been very gracious as well as welcoming us as new members of the community here,” he said.

    The Dyer Group, previously located in Clarksburg, is one of Harrison County’s oldest businesses was originally founded as P.M. Long and Son Inc. The company has been in business since 1896 and is a sixth-generation, family-owned operation. Being at the new location, Dyer said, can aid in fostering future growth. “I think the location and accessibility to the interstate makes this a great location for our clientele and our staff as we transition into growing our agency,” he said. Dyer expressed the development was an asset to the entire region of North Central West Virginia and is happy “we can be a small part of it.

    Minard’s Spaghetti Inn, a popular Harrison County staple for 83 years, held its grand opening in November, and owner Joe Minard expressed how convenient it was for customers in Bridgeport because they would no longer have to wade through lengthy traffic to visit the Clarksburg location. General Manager Heather Gillespie said the restaurant has a primary convenience factor, providing meals in a to-go container whether customers eat in or take out, making it more convenient for those on a lunch break or in a hurry.

    After a soft opening two weeks ago, the new restaurant is starting to see some of its Bridgeport patrons more often than previously, Gillespie said. Some of its menu items include a hot Italian sub sandwich that is normally only available at the Clarksburg restaurant on special as well as soups like minestrone, Italian wedding soup, cheddar broccoli, potato, lobster bisque, pasta fagioli, and, starting next week, it also will sell vegetable beef soup and chili.

    Thrasher said there is work continuing throughout the year. There is one bay that remains vacant in the retail section of the development and a national fast food chain, which Thrasher did not name at this time, will find a new home in the lot in front of the Huntington Bank, with construction most likely beginning this year. Though nothing is solidified, Thrasher said there is potential for residential development behind the Harmony Assisted Living Facility, which also opened its doors this year.

    In addition, The Thrasher Group built a 4.5-acre pad behind the Freedom Kia dealership located right off of the Saltwell Exit and he said plans are in the works to utilize it for future developments. “If things work out, hopefully we will see some stuff come up before too long,” he said. Thrasher said the impact the development has in the region remains large with other surrounding factors in the area that help facilitate its growth.

    You kind of look for a nice place when you invest in a big building like this. If you’re (The Thrasher Group) and you are going to pay for a building of this size, you’re going to put it in a nice place that’s going to hold its value so we allow bigger companies like that to have place right here where people can come to work. I think it’s got a lot of value there,” Thrasher said.

    The hotels, restaurants and other aspects of the development are also essential, he said. “It’s also a really nice benefit having the airport over there with their runway and having the ability to have things land there, seeing them expand and opening up options. I think it really is going to open us up to a bigger area and close things down in terms of travel for us,” he said.

    Bridgeport Community Development Director Andrea Kerr said White Oaks from the very beginning has been aggressive and successful in developing their properties, having “done a tremendous job.” “We are excited to hear about the possibility of future development and hope to continue our working relationship to grow not only Bridgeport but North Central West Virginia,” he said.

     

    Article By Steven Baublitz, The State Journal 

  2. Monongalia County Starts to see Fruits of its Labor, Continues to Grow

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    Monongalia County is, according to area officials, in a state of economic development that residents are finally going to be able to see with their own eyes. Many of the projects that have been in the works for years are finally coming to reality and will make an impact on even further growth, according to Monongalia County Commissioner Tom Bloom.

    I think the biggest issue the public is going to see will be the development of buildings on the WestRidge area,” adding that this month visual progress will be made on Bass Pro Shops and Menards home improvement store in the business and retail park. “In the past, it’s always been land moving … now they’re going to see that next step and how they’re going to be able to benefit.

    WestRidge is a mixed-use development in Morgantown that will also be home to MVB Bank and the Steptoe & Johnson law firm, as well as 160,000 square feet of space for soft good retailers of nationally recognized brands and 60,000 square feet of retail space specifically for local businesses, according to previous reports.

    We have several announcements coming about businesses coming there,” Bloom said. Money coming to and staying in Monongalia County is a major concern and focus for the commission, according to Bloom. “We will fight everyday to make sure our funds stay here and not get lost in Charleston,” Bloom said, adding that he hopes residents see more expansive ways to shop locally and experience expanded services in their home county as tangible results of all the focus on growth and development.

    One thing many residents might not immediately consider when it comes to economic growth is the 2020 Census. “People do not understand that’s how we get our federal funds,” Bloom said. “As important as Bass Pro and Menards is — the census and filling out the form is just as important, and we need to get many more people than in the past.

    Official Census Bureau forms began being distributed in mid-March, and households will have the option to respond by mail, by phone or online, according the Monongalia County government website.

    The 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade. In West Virginia, that amounts to more than $5 billion in federal funding for things like Medicaid, SNAP, highway planning and construction, the National School Lunch Program and much more! That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location,” according to the website.

    Bloom advises residents to take their participation seriously as it makes a substantial impact on our community and our ability to grow and change based on what people need. As far as building new structures, it’s not all localized to just one point in the county. Advancements in the area of Mylan Park and even more potential growth in the Morgantown Municipal Airport area are also coming up the pike.

    The growth in Mylan Park with the 4-H building, with the swimming and track center and future growth out in that area is going to be very big,” Bloom said. “There are some major housing developments that are going to go in.” A runway extension project and a proposed Tax Increment Financing district for the Morgantown Municipal Airport and Commerce Park is in the early stages of being determined, and if it moves forward, it could add even more to the already growing footprint of Monongalia County.

    The project “will improve capabilities and attractability for the airport, but also we are utilizing a lot of the soils that would need to be moved in order to do the runway extension to then create a 90+ acre business industrial park adjacent to the airport,” Russ Rogerson, president and CEO of the Morgantown Area Partnership said in a previous interview. “It’s an opportunity for two benefits out of the same action.

    The project would be an improvement for the airport but also a job center for the area, according to Rogerson. There have been some differing views on the TIF up to this point, as some of the land included Commission President Ed Hawkins’ 17-acre property and several questions remained, from the county’s perspective, about planning and application. And while area officials on both sides are still in early stages, such a potentially large economic driver will remain a major part of economic and government conversations in the recent future.

    In all things economy based, it’s important that as a community we continue to attract new businesses and to help existing businesses expand,” Rogerson said previously, adding that this park would be the most significant business park land in Morgantown. The runway extension project of 1,001 feet, which would make the final runway length 6,200 feet, would have a total estimate cost of $50 million and take between five and 10 years, according to overview documentation from the Morgantown Municipal Airport. Major construction would be expected to begin in the fall of this year. And while the continuous construction that goes along with exponential expansion can be bothersome to residents or seek like it will never end, Bloom said it really does have the potential to positively influence quality of life in Morgantown and in the entirety of Monongalia County.

    Because of this growth, we are able to keep our property taxes low and provide more services,” Bloom said. “We are very fortunate that our community, Mon County, is looked at as a growing area and I believe it’s really important to continue that.” Being such an area does come with its own concerns and problems, like with infrastructure and road conditions, and that is not lost on the county. “We need a better working relationship with the state on fixing our infrastructure and our roads,” Bloom said. “We have our own concerns and problems with more cars and traffic.”

    Monongalia County’s concerns in that area being so much different than other, more rural parts of the state, can sometimes make such communications difficult, according to Bloom. But it’s something that will continue to be addressed, he said. Other areas the county has its sights on includes the working relationship between surrounding counties and continuing to strengthen those bonds will be a focus as 2020 ticks onward, Bloom said.

     

    Feature Image Caption: The WestRidge leasing office is a 15,000 square foot, three-tenant, mixed-use building in Morgantown. 

    Article

  3. Infrastructure paves way for Morgantown’s retail growth – The State Journal

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    When David Lorenze was growing up in Morgantown, there were roughly a dozen restaurants to choose from in the whole town.

    “Now, you have a dozen restaurants within a half-mile radius,” said Lorenze, principal at Black Diamond Realty. “The same holds true for retail.”

    Growing almost as fast as shopping centers is the excitement as residents speculate on what new business may be opening soon.

    Eldon Callen, vice president of Governmental Affairs, Community/Economic Development at the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce, said he has recently celebrated a number of grand openings, including Fusion Japanese Steakhouse, which has locations in Parkersburg and Wheeling, plus, Washington and Grove City, Pa.; and WV Box and Ship in Sabraton.

    “There’s a whole new strip mall up there across from Suncrest Towne Centre that has MVB Bank, a new Starbucks and Penn Station East Coast Subs,” Callen said. “There are a number of things coming.”

    Callen is always hesitant to say that a business is coming for sure.

    “It’s up to the companies to release their plans,” Callen said. “They may just have shown an interest or given a letter of intent. Amazon was looking here and ended up going to Berkeley County. That’s why I’m hesitant to give credence to rumors. Some are true, and some are not.”

    Callen did confirm that Dave & Buster’s, a nationwide chain of restaurant-arcades, looked at WestRidge Business and Retail Park at the new Interstate 79 Exit 153. As far as Callen knows, the company hasn’t done more than look. Calls to Dave & Buster’s corporate office were not returned.

    The North Central West Virginia Economic Outlook 2017-2021, compiled by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research, says the build-out of major developments, such as University Town Centre, Suncrest Towne Centre and Fort Pierpont off Interstate 68 Exit 7 will drive growth in new retail, dining, lodging and entertainment businesses.

    “To put it in perspective, in 2013, at University Town Centre, the road ended at Walmart on the east side and at Ashley Furniture next to Dick’s Sporting on the west side. Now it’s developed almost all the way down to the new interchange on the other side,” Callen said.

    “That whole area is possible, really, because of the interchange (Interstate 79 Exit 153). That is the first interchange in the country that was a collaboration and cooperation between the state and county government. It was funded half by county and half by the federal government and designed by the local, state and federal people. That shows the importance of infrastructure.”

    In that area, one of the newest developments under construction is WestRidge, a 1,000-acre mixed-use development that will have five neighborhoods, two medical office buildings, a shopping center and a corporate office park.

    Holly Childs, WestRidge’s director of business development and external relations, said despite road and utility construction just getting underway, there is substantial pre-leasing interest in the development.

    “There are currently 149 acres under construction, 90 of which have letters of interest, signed purchase agreements or have already been sold,” Childs said. “WestRidge is currently negotiating with many new and exciting retail offerings for the market, while also planning close to 100 acres of a Class A Business Park that is currently being marketed on a national level to attract and recruit businesses to Morgantown.”

    That area on Morgantown’s north side is not the only development that’s growing.

    Lorenze said Black Diamond Realty expects to announce 14-15 deals it has closed this quarter in October.

    “Quarter 3 has been Black Diamond Realty’s strongest quarter in its short four-year history,” Lorenze said.

    Backdoor Bargains, which sells merchandise at up to a 70 percent markdown, opened this summer in the former Fastenal store in Sabraton. In June, BDR announced a developer will build an 8,300-square-foot Family Dollar Store on 1.14 acres near Mountainview Elementary on Green Bag Road.

    “A lot of announcements will happen in the coming months,” Lorenze said.

    One might be about a restaurant on the upper level of the new Par Mar Retail Store/Restaurant on Oakland Street near WVU’s Evansdale Campus.

    Callen said when a business is looking to locate in a community it evaluates the local schools and what entertainment and other things there are for workers and their families to do.

    “Jobs are only part of the equation attracting folks to Morgantown,” Lorenze agreed. “Monongalia County is flush with amenities that support a strong quality of life. From beautiful public parks to quality schools to world-class sports’ facilities, Morgantown is blessed with a well-rounded offering of amenities. And, the beautiful thing is, the momentum appears to only be increasing.”

     Article by Cynthia McCloud, Correspondent