Retail, plans for pro team boost to Charles Pointe development

3,000-seat stadium, expansion at conference center should lead to retail, residential, commercial growth

Sunday, April 15, 2012

By Darlene Taylor-Morgan


BRIDGEPORT – Charles Pointe, the $1.4 billion master planned community off W.Va. 279 in Bridgeport, has major plans for the next few years.

A 22,000-square-foot retail center called The Commons is planned this year.

Then in 2014, the Washington (Pa.) Wild Things, a professional minor league baseball team, and Genesis Partners will bring a team and a stadium to Charles Pointe.

The stadium will seat 3,000 and will have an artificial playing surface.  It will be built to allow an additional 4,800-seat expansion, according to Jamie Corton, managing partner of Genesis Partners.

The initial investment is estimated to be $15 million to $20 million, he said.

Besides a 50-game home schedule for the professional team, the stadium also could be used for college and high school baseball games, concerts, circuses and other community events, Corton said.

Premier Commercial has purchased the land located between Buffalo Wild Wings and Microtel Inn & Suites for the retail center.  It has secured Firehouse Subs and is in negotiations with a Mexican and an Asian restaurant for the center, Mark Dellana said.  He is the executive director of development.

The Bridgeport Conference Center and parking area also are expanding, Dellana said.  The facility soon will be able to hold more than 400 guests.

The building expansion will be in both the front and the back, he said.  It currently has 60,000 visitors a year, and officials see that number doubling in coming years.

The $1.4 billion in development is within 1,514 acres of the community.  It will allow for 2,281 residential units, 2,759,500 square feet of retail and office space and 446 acres of open space.

Dellana said the nearly 30 percent of open space is very important as officials look at the future development of the community.

But when it comes to the retail and office structures, they must be unique to the area.

“We want to bring buildings people are used to seeing on vacations here,” he said.  “There is an international clientele coming here, and we want what the rest of the country has.”

Infrastructure in place includes underground fiber optics, easy access to Interstate 79, W.Va. 279 and W.Va. 131, adequate water, sanitary sewer and stormwater management.

A study has shown that 36,000 vehicles travel past Exit 124 of Interstate 79 daily, which ranks as the third highest traffic volume in West Virginia.

Corton said the Charles Pointe team is committed to providing residents and businesses that locate within the community a quality of life and an environment for sustainable, healthy communities.

“For over 70 years, our related companies have been dedicated to West Virginia job creation.  We are pleased with the development progress over the past year and are very excited about developments coming to fruition in the near future,” Corton said.

The success of Charles Pointe, now and in the future, is based on public/private partnerships.  We, as a community, are very fortunate to have public leadership (from Bridgeport to the federal government) who understands the benefits and roles of the public sector by providing tools for maximizing the economic benefits of new development and job creation.  Together our mutual efforts benefit all West Virginians.”

Charles Pointe is two miles from the FBI Biometrics Center with 3,000 employees.  It is adjacent to United Hospital Center, a 316-bed, 681,440-square-foot hospital with about 1,900 employees, as well as North Central West Virginia Airport.

There are currently a total of 162 residential units and about 270,000 square feet of commercial property in Charles Pointe North.  That represents about one-tenth of total development planned.

The total private sector investment to date is in excess of $75 million, according to Robert Stuart, director of planning/engineering.

The latest businesses to open are BFS Food Services, Dairy Queen, Little Caesar’s Pizza and Gloria Jean’s Coffees.  Officials also are in talks with two hotel groups.

The $7.4 million recreational complex is due to open today.

Other completed building projects are Cubby’s Childcare Center, Wingate by Wyndham, Petroleum Development Corporation Eastern Regional Headquarters, Fairmont Federal Credit Union and Womancare Inc., medical office.

A retail feasibility analysis and market analysts suggest the development would support a combination of big-box centers, outlet centers, lifestyle centers, a destination resort and retail centers, Stuart said.

“Negotiations are under way with two major high-impact entities to meet this market demand,” he said.

Charles Pointe will support 5,836 direct jobs and 5,396 indirect jobs at full buildout, Stuart said.  To date, the development supports about 300 full-time and more than 100 part-time jobs.

“Projects being considered in conjunction with the Harrison County Commission, which approved the tax increment financing district there, total $392,387,290,” he said.

Local officials are excited about the boost from the economic development activity.

“Any development in Harrison County is a plus for the residents,” Harrison County Commission President Bernie Fazzini said.  “I’m looking forward to the next phase, and hopefully that will get under way shortly.”

Bridgeport Mayor Jim Christie said the economic activity that has taken place to this date has been tremendous.

“With the new housing, a new 96-unit apartment complex completed and B&O tax revenue from various construction jobs on the site has made a tremendous economic impact on the city,” Christie said.  “I’m excited about it.  It’s going to be a great economic boost to the city and the county.

Construction on The Commons is expected to begin soon, and it will create opportunity for shopping, eating and additional employment, he said.