Family To Turn Farm Into Development Along I-79

Times West Virginian

By Alexis McDaniel

BRIDGEPORT, (Thursday, October 26, 2000, Page 1A)

A Bridgeport family says it will take at least 10 years to turn its 2,000-acre farm, which currently features a herd of buffalo, ponds and pristine pastures, into a planned community with "smart homes," hotels and research parks, trails, a golf course and a Towne Center shopping center.

A $9 million privately-owned hotel and a city of Bridgeport conference center will be the first structures built next year at "Charles Pointe," officials said Wednesday.

James and Jennifer Corton coordinated a press conference at her father’s farm, where about 150 guests were shuttled in vans from the Bridgeport Civic Center to tents on a hill near the Benedum Airport. The family has been discussing a planned community for seven years, Jennifer Compton Corton said, and wanted to name it after her dad, Charles "Jim" Compton, who is ill.

"You are looking at one of my father’s favorite places on earth," she said. The family’s goal is to create a new lifestyle for West Virginians.

The family formed Genesis Partners to coordinate investment activities at Charles Pointe. It will be financed and constructed by multiple developers with a total investment estimated at $750 million. The family has already spent $2 million in research, marketing and design to make sure it will be feasible, James Corton said.

The farm is not in the city limits but will be annexed into Bridgeport, he said. The land is accessible from the new Bridgeport bypass and Interstate 79.

Bridgeport City Council has been meeting in executive sessions about the development and did not discuss its involvement until this week. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Timms said the city intends to build a 10,000-square-foot conference center with a price tag of about $1.5 million. The building committee will work on financing the project.

The city also will assist Genesis Partners with infrastructure. The property needs roads, sewer and water lines, for example. Timms said the city is seeking grants. He said some of the taxes generated from Charles Pointe could help support other needs in the future.

The Humphrey Companies will build at least one hotel, said Jim Humphrey, who owns 93 hotels in 19 states. "I will be negotiating to bring in high-end brands such as Hilton and Marriott to Charles Pointe," he said. "I see Charles Pointe as being a world-class development that will host visitors from around the nation and world. This development needs world-class hotels to match its commitment to a quality community."

Officials are banking on the success of the high-technology industry in north central West Virginia to help support the development. The Benedum Airport is recruiting new businesses now for its industrial park and the I-79 Industrial Park is just a few miles from Charles Pointe. The people who work at these high-tech facilities will need homes, Jennifer Compton Corton explained.

One type of home that is proposed for Charles Pointe is the smart home, which incorporates technology into all facets of living – from the kitchen to the thermostat. Some 250 of these homes will be built at Worthington Estates.

Genesis has been working with West Virginia University to define strategies to promote the development and growth in research and commercial applications at the site. WVU President David Hardesty said Charles Pointe is a bold concept like no others in the state.

"We are a state of the future. We are not a state of the past," Hardesty said.