Moving Forward

by Jeff Toquinto


The Exponent Telegram

Sunday, January 16, 2005



BRIDGEPORT – As a developer, Jamie Corton knows things are happening – and have been happening – for a long time at the Charles Pointe development.  At the same time, he knows most of what has taken place involves earthwork and infrastructure that is far removed from the public eye.

Perhaps that’s why Corton, managing partner of Genesis Partners, the group responsible for the Charles Pointe project, was thrilled last year when construction began on the first bricks-and-mortar effort at the nearly 2,000-acre site.  Construction of the $8.7 million Wingate Inn, along with bids going out on a $3 million convention center to be built by the city of Bridgeport, were the first major development announcements for the project.

Last week, Corton said there’s more good news on the way.

In fact, he said a vital announcement regarding development should be forthcoming later this month or early next month.

“This is going to be one of the biggest announcements that we’ll be making here,” said Corton.

As for what the announcement is, Corton is being tight-lipped.  He wouldn’t say if it tied in with a retail, corporate, service, technology, residential or educational announcement.  Any of those areas could apply at the master planned community where developers say one day you’ll be able to do everything from buying a home to getting your hair cut.

The forthcoming announcement is one of several Corton expects this year involving the proposed $750 million development that was first announced in October of 2000.  He also expects work to begin on a 160,000-square-foot building that will offer Class A office space.

“We’ve actually halted marketing the (office) complex,” said Corton. “The Phillips Group is working on a full marketing plan for the year.  As that rolls out, we’re going to finish closing some of the deals on that complex.  We already have several deals closed.”

The Phillips Group, a marketing and public relations firm from Randolph County, became the latest West Virginia group to become part of the team developing Charles Pointe.

Already, Bridgeport accounting firm Toothman and Rice is on board, as are several others.  Corton said using local resources whenever possible is part of the overall vision for the development situated along Interstate 79.

As for the Wingate Inn, Corton said there’s good news there as well.  Initially, the thought was the hotel would be complete in September, but the time frame for completion may now be as early as July.

“I think it’s the good weather,” said Corton when asked the reason for the upgrade.  “I don’t know if (the weather) is going to last, but we’ve had it a month longer than we thought we would.  They (the contractors) feel pretty confident where they’re going.”

Corton is also confident that construction of the hotel, the convention center and the office complex this year will lay to rest concerns area residents may have had about progress at the development.  While he would have liked to have seen things happen at a faster rate, he said due to the unique vision and overall plan, he knew getting to the construction stage was something that wouldn’t happen in a year or two.

“A lot of people think things happen overnight,” Corton said.  “We’ve been pretty patient with the process and, and honestly, so have most of the public … We’ve known from the start that the engineering and planning for this would take a lot of time.  We know it’s a well-thought-out plan, and we’re comfortable that our vision will happen.”

The vision could have been derailed more than once in the past few years.  Corton said Genesis Partners could have opted for the quick fix for both financial and for visibility purposes that some entities could have brought.  More than one developer pitched those proposals in hopes of making Charles Pointe a future home.

“It just didn’t fit the vision of Charles Pointe,” said Corton of why certain requests to develop were turned down.

The vision is to make Charles Pointe an experience.  Corton said he wants those living and working at Charles Pointe, as well as those leaving the interstate to visit the site, to know that they are in for an experience of quality services and first-class treatment.

As for those who eventually will reside at Charles Pointe, the goal is to have a community where most vital needs can be met within the community’s borders.  The reason for that is time.

“If you can shop here, work here, play here and live here, it creates more time for other things,” Corton said.  “Time is so important today, and you’ll see us talking about that more in the future because it’s critical for people to be able to spend more time with their families.”