Charles Pointe continues growth cycle

After strong 2007, local development looks for even better results in 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008
The Exponent Telegram
by Jim Fisher, Metro Editor

Bridgeport - In 2007, Charles Pointe continued to expand and grow with the addition of numerous retail locations and new housing; and even more of the same is expected through the rest of 2008.

An area that was rolling hillside just a few years ago has been transformed into a sprawling expanse as 2007 saw the additions of an Exxon station and convenience store, Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, Petroleum Development Corp., Fairmont Federal Credit Union, the Christie-Cutlip Office complex, Cubby's Day Care and a physicians' building, not to mention the townhouses and duplexes.

Added to the Bridgeport Conference Center, Wingate Inn and Microtel, Charles Pointe developer Genesis Partners has accomplished quite a bit in a little more than two years.

When the $8.7 million Wingate Inn opened in November 2005, the rest of Charles Pointe was still little more than plats on paper.

Now in the third year of brick-and-mortar construction, the North Land Bay is nearly full, and work has begun in the monstrous South Land Bay on two new neighborhoods of single-family housing.

Bordered by Interstate 79 to the west, W.Va. 279 to the south and W.Va. 131 to the east, the North Land Bay has evolved from rolling farmland to a mix of housing, retail and office buildings.

And it's going to continue growing as phase one of Marketplace, the newest major addition to the $750 million planned community, is under construction.

Ultimately, Marketplace is planned as a six-building 230,000-square-foot complex nestled between Barrington Manor and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Jamie Corton, managing partner of Genesis Partners, has described Marketplace as a microcosm of the overall plan for Charles Pointe.

The six buildings are planned to include retail shops, commercial space and even loft apartments.  There were leases in place and letters of intent from a half-dozen companies, all before a single block was laid.

Phase one is construction of a 58,000-square-foot office building.

In all, Charles Pointe has seen about $4 1/2 million in land sales [in January and February of 2008], Corton said, including a major acquisition by Petroleum Development corp.  The company recently completed the purchase of an eight-plus acre plateau adjacent to its office building.

"I think we're making pretty good progress," Corton said.

And Charles Pointe is actually still in the infancy of its construction development, as the completed portion of the North Land Bay represents only about 10 percent of the overall plan.

In addition to Marketplace, plans for 2008 include more construction at Barrington and Park View, the two multi-family housing developments in the North Land Bay, and Hunter's Chase and Worthington Village, the two single-family developments in the South Land Bay.

Corton estimated that an additional 200 home sties would be open by June, as Genesis already has commitments for a number of homes in the latter two neighborhoods.

While the main focus for 2008 is residential, Corton is expecting to be able to make some more retail announcements in the coming months.

Development and construction in the last two years has been very fast, especially taking into consideration the number of years when it seemed that absolutely nothing was happening.

The first few years of the project were dominated by behind-the-scenes preparations that laid the foundation for the entire project.

The overall numbers are staggering.  When completed, Charles Pointe will encompass roughly 1,700 acres, have 2.6 million square feet of commercial and retail space and 2,300 residential units, and parks, recreation facilities and miles of walking trails.

And that was all mapped out from the beginning.

The entire project was approved as a planned unit development, meaning that whole sections were dedicated to particular uses, such as housing, retail, commercial and recreation.

With that overall plan in hand, Genesis was able to get preapproval from the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as other environmental impact studies out of the way.  While that may have contributed to delays up front, it now means that the time between a company expressing interest in construction and completion on the project is drastically reduced, Corton said.

Charles Pointe also is expected to work hand-in-hand with two other major developments in the same area, the under-construction United Hospital Center and White Oaks, a planned business park.

"Anything we can do here to come together as a community is good for everyone," Corton said. "To go out there and to see people working, it's a great feeling."