'West Virginia is very special'

Developer says Charles Pointe continues growth despite national economy

The Exponent Telegram
Sunday, March 8, 2009
by Billy Wolfe

Bridgeport – Despite the national economic downturn, development at Charles Pointe continues at full steam.

“It’s really strange. You hear about all of the economic chaos throughout the country, but we have been fortunate,” said Jamie Corton, chief developer of the state’s first master-planned community.

Nearly 70 homes have already been sold in three of Charles Pointe’s four housing districts, with at least 96 apartment units still on the way.

Ten homes are now under construction and another 70 house lots remain in inventory, he said.

Almost all infrastructure for the residential neighborhoods is in place, and soon the fourth housing district – Hunter’s Chase – will be opening as well, Corton said.

About 2.5 miles of roadway has been constructed, and more than 3 miles of sanitary sewer and water lines have been laid.

With about 274,000 square feet of commercial space already occupied, Charles Pointe is home to hotels, a gas station, office space and restaurants, said Rob Stuart, director of development.

Corton plans to break ground on an additional 200,000 square feet of commercial space this year.

He hopes the “marketplace” will include more restaurants, novelty stores, bakeries and retail, once completed.

He would not provide the names of any businesses currently in negotiations.

There are also plans to build several baseball fields and a football field, he said.

Stuart also felt that Charles Pointe has been relatively unaffected by the recession.

“We certainly aren’t feeling a lot of the impacts that other parts of the nation are feeling. We have continued to have interest in our project,” he said.

S&A Builders, the company handling all residential development at Charles Pointe, is also not feeling the economic crunch, according to Division Manager Todd Stafford.

“Our pace has kept relatively the same for the past four years,” he said.

Stafford said he is seeing a lot of interest from people outside the state who want to live in Charles Pointe.

He thinks the local economy has been somewhat insulated by the jobs creation going on along the I-79 Corridor.

Corton agreed employers like the West Virginia High Tech Consortium, in Fairmont, and the FBI Center, in Clarksburg, are attracting newcomers to the new Bridgeport community.

“Growth is strong and unemployment is weak in Morgantown, and I think it has come down through this whole corridor,” he said.

“We are remaining cautiously optimistic.”

Corton said he is concerned about recent layoffs at some of the area’s top employers.

But he attributed those job losses to problems with the “exterior economy.”

The “interior economy” is still looking good, he said.

He said that business and government leaders in the state are to thank for the success of his project.

“We couldn’t do it without everybody working with us.

“West Virginia is very special,” he said.

Corton expects the entire project to be finished in 10-15 years.

The total investment is projected at more than $1 billion.