August Newsletter: Fear. Uncertainty. Challenging Economic Times.Comments Off on August Newsletter: Fear. Uncertainty. Challenging Economic Times.
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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
The White Oaks development in Bridgeport, located just off the Jerry Drove Exit on Interstate 79, continues to grow and expand as more offices, retail locations and other businesses open their doors. The 472-acre business park has seen a flurry of construction activity over the past year, and developers plan to soon announce details of new projects planned there, said Austin Thrasher, White Oaks project manager. “Here pretty soon I think we’re going to have an announcement for some more earthworks construction going on for White Oaks that will develop some more pad space,” he said. “I would expect that we’ll probably be pulling the trigger within the next month and making that announcement.”
The most recent additions to White Oaks include a 3,300-square-foot Clear Mountain Bank location and an 8,749-square-foot commercial building that houses a Starbucks and several other businesses, Thrasher said. “We’ve got the bank, and then the retail (building), with Starbucks, Elegant Nails and Bridgeport Physical Therapy that have all moved into there,” he said. “Then down the hill below TGI Friday’s we have Regional Eye Associates that just opened up there. We’ve also got Tenmile Land, a land company that opened up right across from Steptoe and Johnson.”
David Thomas, Clear Mountain Bank’s CEO and president, said White Oaks was chosen to house the branch due to is central location. “The White Oaks community is just so vibrant right now,” Thomas said. “There is a lot of activity going on and a lot of businesses around. From that perspective, it was a big draw to provide easy access to our customers.” A multi million-dollar facility that will provide living space for senior citizens, which will be called The Crossings at Bridgeport, is also under construction and is expected to be completed next year, Thrasher said. Aubury Holmes, development manager for Smith/Packett, a senior housing and care development company based in Virginia that will operate the facility, said it will provide a variety of accommodations and services. “This will be a 94,629-square-foot senior living community with assisted living and memory care,” she said. “There will be several amenities, including physical therapy, exercise room, theater, bistro, activity space, outdoor courtyards and walking paths, van transportation to transport residents to activities within the community and a central kitchen with three meals day.” The project has a total budget of approximately $23.15 million, Holmes said.
White Oaks, which was founded in 2008, has kept pace with its developers’ expectations for growth, Thrasher said. “It’s been very exciting for us. It’s definitely picked up pace since the development started,” he said. “It has done what I think everybody hoped it would do from the beginning. Over the last year and half or two years it seems like it has really picked up some speed.” The addition of direct flights to Washington, D.C., and Chicago out of the nearby North Central West Virginia Airport has contributed to White Oaks’ continued growth, Thrasher said. “I certainly don’t think it has hurt,” he said. “I know a lot of people with some existing businesses there have been using that a lot. I think it has serviced our area really well.” “That whole area out there has really been great for the city of Bridgeport and for the county and for North Central West Virginia,” Bridgeport Mayor Andy Lang said. “I think that it’s great they are going to continue to expand.”
The development is divided into three sections, or “phases,” Thrasher said. “In Phase 1, which is where you see most of the buildings, we are closing in toward kind of the end remaining parcels,” he said. “Phase 2 starts with the Thrasher building and goes down to where the assisted living facility will be. They are really kicking off Phase 2 as the first people jumping in there.” In Phase 3, which is still largely vacant, developers estimate White Oaks will continue along its current growth trajectory for the next couple of decades, Thrasher said. “There is probably 20 more years worth of development to happen,” he said. “That’s the plan going forward: To build it out and hope they keep coming.”
Article By: Charles Young, The Exponent Telegram
A former medical office at 300 Wedgewood Drive will be undergoing renovations to upgrade its space and will also provide “aesthetic love,” according to David Lorenze, principal for Black Diamond Realty LLC. “Structurally, it is a very sound building — it just needs some TLC,” Lorenze said. He said the facility will begin renovations in the first quarter of 2019 to develop a more modern look.
The developer for the project is Glenmark Holding LLC. Lorenze said the building will be a versatile space that incorporates all types of businesses. The space offers more than 19,000 square feet, and the buyer is investing more than $1 million to redevelop the property. The funds for the renovations will allow the buyer to redesign the interior and exterior — permitting more creative liberty to make it a modern space, according to Lorenze.
In addition to the aesthetics of the building itself, new landscaping will be another priority and there are plans to put a playground in, as well. “We have multiple floor plans at this point — that the Mills Group has put together in conjunction with the buyer — that lay out a number of different scenarios,” Lorenze said. “The goal is to cater to all office-use types.”
Photo Caption: This submitted artist rendering shows the plans for 300 Wedgewood Drive, a former medical office that is getting 1 million in renovations. (Artist Submitted Rendering)
Lorenze said his company is looking to market to child care facilities, medical facilities and other professional office uses. The building will provide a space to suit the needs of the user, as well as give more opportunity to a range of businesses. “There are thousands of rooftops within a one-mile radius, and the way the property lays from it being all single-story, it just seems like a natural fit,” Lorenze said. “As Morgantown continues to grow, taking older facilities like this that served a purpose for many years and served the community, there is a point and time where it needs money injected into it to repurpose it, to further serve the market and growth in Morgantown.”
Black Diamond Realty LLC’s role is to sell the property to the developer, then work with the developer to market and lease to businesses in the Suncrest area. “Suncrest as a whole is in high-demand, it has a lot of major employers,” Lorenze said. “Being in the Suncrest area is attractive for many folks, and our goal is to target businesses that want an affordable location outside of city limits.”
For more information about this property, contact Black Diamond Realty at 304-413-4350.
The Dominion Post, Tiffany Morgan
The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing Wednesday morning to discuss that project with representatives of the FBI Finance Division and the General Services Administration (GSA) Public Buildings Service.
“In the revised plan, there is a plan if consolidation occurs downtown, the CJIS Center in Clarksburg would have several hundred jobs moving into West Virginia,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said during the hearing. “That would be an important development for me, obviously, as that facility continues to grow and become more professional and more highly technological. We would welcome that prospect of having those employees move out into West Virginia, as many have moved there before and have realized the wild and wonderful live is a pretty good one out in West Virginia.”
The FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project began as a means to replace the J. Edgar Hoover (JEH) building that the FBI has occupied since 1974.
Richard L. Haley II, assistant director of the FBI’s Finance, Facilities and Real Property Division, said while the mission of the FBI has evolved, the building itself has not kept pace and is instead falling apart as evidenced by crumbling facades and deteriorating infrastructure.
“This makes it difficult to address rapidly developing threats and collaborate across divisions and programs,” Haley said. “As an organization, we must be able to stay current with constantly changing technologies that make our jobs both easier and harder.
“Simply put, the existing J. Edgar Hoover building is obsolete, inefficient, and faces a number of security vulnerabilities,” he said.
Thus the current J. Edgar Hoover building would be demolished and the construction of a new building would occur on the same site.
During the construction phase, FBI employees would relocate to “swing space,” such as the Clarksburg facility while the existing facility is under construction.
In total, the FBI will be moving more than 2,500 positions — both employees and contractors — to its owned facilities across the nation, which includes not only Clarksburg but also Huntsville, Alabama, Pocatello, Idaho, and Quantico, Virginia.
“It is anticipated that several hundred positions could be shifted to FBI facilities in Clarksburg, West Virginia and Pocatello, Idaho, while the remainder would be realigned to Huntsville, Alabama,” Haley said. “The FBI already has a substantial presence in each of these communities.”
The FBI previously proposed a procurement that would have moved forward with constructing a new suburban facility, but upon a review of real estate costs and footprints, it was decided that demolition and reconstruction would be less costly.
Together, the FBI and GSA began to review and seriously consider the possibility of staying at the current location, determining multiple advantages to doing so, including the property’s proximity other departmental headquarters, inspection facilities, utility plants, Metro lines and road and bus networks.
Thus, a plan to rebuild on the site began. As part of the evaluation, three options were considered: a phased renovation of the existing building, a renovation of a fully vacant facility or a demolition of the current facility and construction of a new building on the site.
“A phase renovation, we determined, would take 15 years, cost more money and deliver you a less successful product than demolishing and rebuilding a new structure,” said Daniel Mathews, commissioner of the GSA’s Public Buildings Service. “New construction allows us to build a facility that can house 8,300 people, instead of a smaller number in a renovated facility. In addition, new construction can mitigate security threats more effectively with tailored designs, newer materials and current construction techniques.”
Overall, Mathews said, the demolition-rebuild allows for the facility to be built faster, cheaper and with less risk than a renovation.
However, the demolition-rebuild is estimated to cost $3.3 billion and require 6 years to occupancy, which makes the relocation of employees to facilities such as Clarksburg’s CJIS vital.
“These other sites that we have identified have been part of our physical portfolio for many years, and while the way forward includes enhancing the use of these sites, these sites are not new to the FBI,” Haley said. “The FBI’s long history at these locations suggests that the functions and staff realigned to those locations can be successful in performing mission operations.”
Posted by Brittany Murray, AJR NEWS NETWORK
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.
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:
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.
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.
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