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  1. White Oaks continues development in 3-phase build-out

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    White Oaks continues development in 3-phase build-out. The White Oaks planned business community comprises 470 acres that are home to offices, FBI support services, medical support services, oil ad gas businesses, national retailers, restaurants and vital amenities.

    Located at the intersection of Interstate 79 and W.Va. 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.

    Retail Village Building 1 is fully occupied, with the newest tenants being Rominger Dental, Bonnie Belle’s Pastries and Hermasilla’s Deli. They all opened their doors in 2017.

    Retail Village Building 2 is under construction, with the first tenant to be Starbucks, Bridgeport Community Development Director Andrea Kerr said.

    Starbucks occupies 2,200 square feet of the 8,749-square-foot building located directly across from Building 1, she said.

    “Starbucks is estimated to cost about $175,000, while the entire Retail 2 shell is $884,320. The second building will be similar in size to the first one, with room for additional tenants,” Kerr said.

    Thrasher said Starbucks will be located in the far right end of Retail Village 2 and feature a drive-through.

    “We are looking to turn over that portion of the building to the company by June 1,” Thrasher said. “It will also have a 550-square-foot patio. I anticipate it opening late this year.”

    Cove Run Construction is doing the site work on Retail 2. Lee Reger Builds is the building construction contractor.

    “There are four more bays available, with interested parties in discussion. We have no final contracts at this time,” Thrasher said.

    Clear Mountain Bank will be located directly behind Retail Village 2. Cove Run is doing the site work.

    “They are about ready to bid the architectural work,” Thrasher said. “Regional Eye Associates will be located near Friday’s, with Cove Run preparing the site and Elite Custom Builders doing the construction.”

    Phase II and Phase III are being marketed now, with Elite Custom Builders to be located across from the W.Va. 131 entrance to White Oaks near Bear Express and the Shell fuel station in an area referred to as The Wedge, Thrasher said.

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    A large vehicle dealership, Freedom Kia, opened in 2017 in Phase III of White Oaks, located off W.Va. 131.

    Hermasilla’s Deli Market, a longtime staple of the Fairmont community, recently opened the doors to a 32-seat second location at White Oaks.

    Along with its signature sandwiches — which feature hand-sliced meats, a wide selection of cheeses and an array of toppings, condiments and vegetables — the establishment also offers salads and sells meats and cheeses in bulk.

    “White Oaks has been very aggressive in developing their property. They don’t stop in the winter. It is a year-round operation,” Kerr said. “It is good for them and great for us. It is a fantastic partnership that we hope to see continue for many more years.”

    Craig Baker, Architecture Division manager for the Thrasher Group, agreed with that sentiment.

    “White Oaks should be commended for their steadfast commitment to the architectural design covenants of the park. They had a vision of what they wanted the park to be and stuck with it,” Baker said. “One thing that makes White Oaks special is how they continually strive to maintain their identity as one of West Virginia’s premier business locations. With the addition of the park and trail system, White Oaks has maintained its identity as a great place to work and play.”

    White Oaks Phase II does not currently have any lots sold. It is located just past the Manchin Clinic Assisted Living Facility that opened late last year.

    Thrasher explained that while Phase I and II are primarily billed as a high-end business park, Phase II will also be for industrial use. Freedom Kia is the first business to locate in that area.

    Freedom Kia was previously located on Emily Drive. However, it began to outgrow its space and decided to move in October.

    “It came to a point where the volume of sales, our service department could not support. It was a situation where to continue to grow and provide our customers the support and service we want them to continue to have, we needed to give them a facility to be able to do that,” General Manager Jadd Buchanan said.

    The dealership facility cost around $5 million, an investment that allowed the company to stay local.

    “This became our home. We built a business here, and we didn’t want to abandon the customers we had sold to or serviced over the years,” Buchanan said. “We wanted to provide a location that was much more user-friendly as far as access — now it’s right off I-79, Exit 125 on Saltwell Road. It’s easier to get to for our employees who live in the area, and our residents in this direct area, so I think that was an easy decision.”

    In its new location, Freedom Kia has tripled the size of its service department, having gone from four lifts to 12, and added a substantial amount of inventory. The space also includes a car wash, which is complimentary when a car is brought in for servicing, and it’s generally more accessible.

    General Sales Manager Dorsey Larew said the larger facility has several perks.

    “We can house more mechanics, and therefore get you in and out faster. Sales display was a little tough when you’re parking in a parking lot versus an actual dealership that was built for that, so that’s been good,” Larew said. “With the lot, you can drive around and be able to look at all of our cars without having to get out of yours.”

    Located at 97 Joy Lane near Bridgeport, accessibility is a prime feature of the new location.

    “We’re a lot more convenient to get in and out of,” Larew said. “Going down Emily Drive, it was tough to get in and out.”

    In addition to offering online credit applications and service appointments, a two-year maintenance plan and a lifetime of state inspections on every car purchased at the location, Freedom Kia also has people who truly enjoy their work, said Jeannie Boyles, who has been the receptionist for six years.

    “We have great people who work here. They’re dedicated, friendly, and are happy to be here,” Boyles said. “That’s important for the company — to be able to come to work and know what you’re doing. It brings a lot of customers in from around the area, and the customers appreciate that, knowing we care about them that much.”

    For the future, Buchanan is looking forward to continued growth and being able to enhance customer service even more, staying focused on giving every individual personal help. At the new location, Freedom Kia offers several complimentary amenities, including local transportation, a kids entertainment room, and more.

    Baker-Hughes owns a parcel in Phase III, but there has been no word on the future plans of the company for the site, Thrasher said.

    “We work with other developers, but own main developer is White Oaks Business Park and we work with Black Diamond Realty, Morgantown.

    Staff writer Darlene J. Swiger, The Exponent Telegram

  2. 2017 Sectors In Demand

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    Our team is often asked, “How is the market?” Some brokers may respond with a generic, “good”. If you are interested in a general response, we are happy to report the market is currently “great.” Black Diamond Realty’s pipeline is the busiest it has been in its four-year history. That said, we suspect you are more interested in a sophisticated, detailed response. Look no further; we have your answers.

    What…. Sectors?

    At Black Diamond Realty, one of our competitive advantages is our thorough and detailed process. We track every single lead. This allows us to present you with accurate statistics that serve as a reflection of market demand across all sectors. Keep in mind our statistics are influenced by Black Diamond Realty’s current inventory of assets. The following statistics provide the number of sector leads since January 1, 2017:

    Industrial = 83        Office = 59         Retail/Restaurant = 58         Land = 32        Investment = 32

     

    Why… Macro vs Micro?

    Do you believe in the mantra that tells you to focus on what you can control? We do, too. However, we also believe it is not wise to bury your head in the sand. It is critical to think about how macroeconomic factors influence regional market demand. Two positive influencers are currently in play.

    Historically speaking, interest rates remain near all-time lows. This bodes well for investors looking to get into investment opportunities. Although cash is king, we are seeing a lot of companies and individuals levering up to take advantage of favorable bank rates. Refinances have flocked through banks’ doors. Sellers also like low interest rates because funds are cheaper to secure which results in higher valuations while still clearing bank debt-coverage ratios.

    The second macroeconomic factor relates to the reenergization (pun intended) of Marcellus Shale activity. Oil and gas pricing is fluid, literally and figuratively. Pricing has seen nominal rises over the past 12 months. However, recent industrial space demand leads us to believe many companies on the front lines sense prices moving north in the coming years. We suspect their goal is to get established in this area while industrial real estate values are still relatively inexpensive. This will heighten their ability to capture the market and capitalize on contracts as things ramp up. Many articles reference cracker plants and pipelines as the saving grace to lowering the current supply glut. These two variables are currently progressing in a very big way. The O&G industry has potential to replace job losses from coal. Time will tell if this is a long-term regional industrial revolution.

    Where?… Concentrated Areas of Development

    Jobs drive economic growth, and there are plenty of jobs coming to two booming exits along the I-79 corridor. University Town Center/West Ridge and White Oaks Business Parks are the two distinct front runners when considering development hubs in north central WV. University Town Center and WestRidge, both located at I-79, Exit 153, lead the charge as driving forces behind retail and office development in Monongalia County. Simply put, this new exit has created significant buzz in Monongalia County which is expected to remain in play for the next three to five years. A lot of announcements will happen in the coming months. 2018 is slated to be a heavy construction year for this development.

    Thirty miles south of Morgantown, White Oaks Business Park is leading the development charge for Harrison County. Numerous Class A office buildings, spanning a plethora of services, hotels, retail space and several restaurants round out the line-up for this state-of-the-art development. White Oaks is an upscale development, which includes sidewalks throughout and pristine landscaping, while serving as “the talk” of Harrison County as it capitalizes on close proximity to the interstate, UHC and FBI’s Campus. Growth and positive economic announcements are projected to continue in the coming years.