BRIDGEPORT - Bridgeport's Charles Pointe development - home to numerous hotels, restaurants, office complexes and residences - has plenty of room to continue expanding, according to an official with the development.
Only a fraction of the 1,700 acres making up the $1.4 billion "large-scale, master-planned community" has been developed for use so far, said Mark Dellana, executive director of development for Charles Pointe.
"When you look at the whole plan, 1,700 is a lot," he said. "There will be 2,800 residential units. That's of all types - that's condos, apartments, single-family, mansions, it could be senior living units. There will be 3 million square feet commercial space."
For a comparison, Bridgeport's Meadowbrook Mall has about 800,000 square feet of retail space, Dellana said.
"So, it's probably three times what the Meadowbrook Mall is," he said. "We're not going to build three malls; we're going to build (more developments like) the little strip centers we have now. We're going to build standalone retail pads for restaurants."
The fully developed community also will feature more than 400 acres of preserved green space, Dellana said.
"People like green space; they like to see it," he said. "But they don't want to just see it; they want to be able to use it.
Ultimately, we're going to have 20 miles of hiking trails. In some of the areas, we've already got underpasses under (WV) 279 so that when we connect the trails, people can walk from one side to the other and not have to cross a highway."
While connecting the trails is still at least several years away, the fact developers are thinking so far ahead shows their commitment to the project and its overall vision, Dellana said.
"That's forward thinking," he said. 'That underpass has been there for 12 years, and no one uses it because we don't have trails connecting it. But ultimately you've got to think about those things way ahead of time."
This mentality has guided the overall direction of Charles Pointe as it has grown steadily over the years, Dellana said.
"The vision here is to do something that doesn't exist in West Virginia," he said. "Charles Pointe will have everything that you need. It will have housing; it will have shopping; it will have your high-end destination retail; and it will have your needs and services retail, like grocery stores and grab-and-go shops."
The development is home to many thriving businesses that have already called Charles Pointe home for some time, like Buffalo Wild Wings and Mia Margherita, Dellana said.
One of the largest projects underway within the development is the Bridgeport Indoor Sports and Recreation Complex Dellana said.
The $50 million, multi-use facility is planned for a site near the city's current recreation complex on about 60 acres of a 125- acre property in the development.
The bids for the project's construction are expected to go out at the beginning of April, and the facility is scheduled to be open by "late summer or the early fall of 2020," according to Bridgeport Mayor Andy Lang.
Kevin Armstrong of BRS Architecture has said the interior of the complex will have multiple uses.
"Primarily, the facility has three major program elements," he said. "There is the gymnasium, which is a little more than 300 feet long - about the size of a football field. ft has six basketball courts, six volleyball courts and can also be used for pickle ball, mat sports and can also be used for community gathering.
"There's a natatorium, as well, which has a competition swimming pool, as well as a community swimming pool," Armstrong said.
"On the upper floor level of the building, you'll find the indoor turf level of the building, and then there's also a fitness center, which will have a group exercise studio," he said.
"And then we have a long running track that goes both around the gymnasium and then extends around the fitness area, as well."
A dedicated group of officials has worked together to keep the project on track and moving forward over the last few years, council member Bob Greer said.
"We've had a core group of staff and some council members that have been involved in this for the entire period of time," he said "I think we're just on the edge of being able to show the whole area a masterpiece of a complex."
Another recent addition to White Oaks is a new Mountain State Brewing Co. location, a restaurant specializing in wood-fired pizza and craft beer, Dellana said.
Chad Bartlett, co-owner of the new Mountain State Brewing Co., said he chose to locate the restaurant in Charles Pointe because of the high traffic volume and its proximity to employees of United Hospital Center, the FBI and other area businesses.
"We wanted to be off the jerry Dove Drive exit due to the obvious traffic counts and nearby facilities employing thousands of people," he said.
Bartlett said he credits the dedication of the Charles Pointe development team with helping to make the dream of opening the restaurant a reality.
"They were great all along, and we've really tested them, unintentionally of course," he said. "This was so close to being a done deal three different times, and they've never given up on us."
Dellana said he was happy to assist Bartlett through the multi year process of completing the restaurant, Dellana said.
"It was five years of working with a customer that we really wanted to see here," he said. "It wasn't easy; they went through their ups and downs, and they asked us to hold our price and work with them, which we did. They are the kind of great neighborhood theme-restaurant that we want to have."
A project to build additional office space, a facility very similar to the 60,000-square-feet building located at 600 Marketplace Ave., is in the development stages, Dellana said.
"Because this office building (600 Marketplace Ave.) is full and has been that way for a number of years now, we're looking at duplicating it," he said. "This one works so well we'd like to build another one just like it. Maybe we'll change a few things, so it doesn't look like a duplicate. But we're going to build the same building again in the field behind it."
Plans for an even larger 90,000-square-feet office building in the same area are also being considered, Dellana said.
"It would be more like what you see in other cities," he said. "It would have retail on the first floor, and the second and third floor will be offices."
The developers of Charles Pointe are committed to the long term future of the development's growth and foresee opportunities for projects and investments continuing for many years to come, Dellana said.
"How long is it going to take? It's a function of the market," he said. ''That timing will be dependent on market forces."
Even after the development is fully fleshed out the community will still require maintenance, management and improvements, Dellana said.
"It becomes a matter of how are you running it and how are you treating the trails, maintaining things an d how are you keeping things relevant and changing out tenants," he said. ''They are never finished."