American Builders Quarterly
By Regina Raiford Babcock
Founded in 2000, Genesis Partners of Bridgeport, WV traces its origins through its related companies to 1942. The company’s founder, Charles E. “Jim” Compton, got his start in the coal business. Bold and innovative, Compton became known as an advocate for education of nutrition, a philanthropist, and the inventor of the coal auger. “Compton was determined to make life better for his fellow man,” says James Corton, President, Realcom, which is headquartered in Bridgeport, WV.
Genesis Partners owns or controls over 1,700 acres of Bridgeport, WV city limits. The company transitioned from coal mining to aircraft maintenance facility, to earth moving and eventually to property management and development. Through its related companies it owns thousands of strategically located acres.
“We had a lot of property, so we felt the best thing in our strategy was to work with the properties,” explains Corton. At one point this organization was very large by West Virginia standards with over 500 employees, but currently Genesis Partners is compact, focusing on earth moving, planning, property management and development.
In addition to these fields, Genesis Partners has moved into hospitality. The organization is involved with three hotels and manages a conference center. “The move into the hospitality business really parallels what we are trying to do in Charles Pointe,” says Corton.
Situated along a major North-South corridor, Charles Pointe is a master-planned neighborhood, an accessible community shaped around the concept of better living. “Part of the vision of Charles Pointe is to display West Virginia for what it is and break the stereotypical thought process for West Virginia,” says Rob Stuart, Director of Development, Genesis Partners.
Once completed, Charles Pointe will be the state’s first master-planned community. “We have had some government representatives make a strong effort to develop high-tech projects along this corridor,” says Stuart. Currently a new regional hospital is under construction. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Fingerprint Identification Center is located approximately one-quarter mile from Charles Pointe.
Another important part of the Charles Pointe vision is to create a fully integrated high-tech community in West Virginia. For example, this 1700-acre development will have fiber optics to each home, building, and business. “We believe that sort of underground infrastructure is critical for the use of our customers,” says Corton. Along with office, retail and multiuse facilities, Charles Pointe will feature freestanding homes, town houses, condos, and apartment buildings in a traditional architecture setting.
“We know our state is rich in natural resources and beauty, and we need to give people a place to live in the new economy,” says Stuart. Especially designed for knowledge workers, this model neighborhood combines residential, social, and business development. Adds Stuart, “This gives them a place to live and experience what they are accustomed to as well as benefit from all of the amenities West Virginia has to offer.”
To create Charles Pointe, Genesis Partners started with a master plan. “It was challenging to find someone who could really plan what we were looking for in a true mixed-use community,” says Corton. During the lengthy planning stage, Corton and Stuart visited numerous mixed-use communities along the East Coast and across the South. After interviewing talented developers and reviewing exemplary developments, the company incorporated these best practices into their planning. Genesis Partners went outside their region to find consultants that truly understood their unique vision.
Landscape Architect Jim Haden of Haden-Stanziale, a native of West Virginia and expert on master planning communities, is designing Charles Pointe. “Haden is very excited to have the opportunity to come back to his native state and do something of this magnitude here,” says Stuart. “He said to us, ‘You really have to hold to your vision because opportunities will come up to make this thing something other than what you envisioned.’”
Corton, Stuart, and the entire Genesis Partners’ team have held on to the master plan and their vision to create a community that fosters job creation, housing, and tourism. This ambitious project has created a great deal of local and statewide interest while creating a strong public-private partnership. Charles Pointe, a $1.4 billion project, is destined to become an inspiration for future communities in rural areas in West Virginia and beyond. Stuart and Corton have spoken at several events about the Charles Pointe development and bringing people together. “People like what we are doing and have asked us to speak at conventions in different regions,” says Corton.
Unfortunately, Charles E. Compton passed away a few years ago. “He was truly a great thinker,” says Corton. Genesis Partners is committed to West Virginia and is also committed to Compton’s dream to better his fellow man. “Quite frankly, this is a real success story for us and for the state,” says Corton.