First Hotel at Charles Pointe Development to Open Monday Caters to Business Travelers, WVU Fans

Saturday, October 29, 2005

By Gary A. Harki

BRIDGEPORT – The 116-room Wingate Inn opens Monday and will be the first hotel inside the nearly 2,000-acre planned community of Charles Pointe.

"I think it is the beginning of Charles Pointe coming into a full development," said Tom Bell, a representative for the investors and management of Wingate Inn.

The $8.7 million hotel is part of a chain that caters to business and leisure customers, according to the Charles Pointe Web site.

"All the utilities, all the communications wiring, all the infrastructure are in place. This confirms the reality of Charles Pointe from the planning stage to the development stage," Bell said.

The hotel has a business center with three fax machines, said T.J. Nicholson, assistant general manger. There is an indoor pool, hot tub and an exercise facility, he said. There are also nine Jacuzzi suites, he said.

"This hotel is going to be needed for this area because of all the business coming into the area," he said.

The hotel expects to see business traffic traveling along the Interstate 79 High Tech Corridor as well as weekend travelers to events such as West Virginia University football games, said Greg de Marrais. He is president of Lodging Development Company, which is developing the hotel.

Wingate brings a high quality hotel to the area, he said.

Wingate is a hotel franchise owned by Cendant Corp., which has nine hotel franchises including Howard Johnson, Travel Lodge and Ramada Inn, de Marrais said.

The Bridgeport Convention Center, which is being built close to the hotel, also will attract many people to the area, he said.

The Convention Center is expected to open in the spring, Phillips said.

This has been a significant year for Charles Pointe, said Bill Phillips, Jr., CEO of Phillips Group, which handles marketing and communications for Charles Pointe.

S&A Homes, the exclusive home builders for the residential portion of Charles Pointe, continues its work there as well, he said.

The planned community also is expected to include retail, professional buildings and recreational and entertainment facilities.

"It is an evolving project," Phillips said. "This is just the beginning, actually. The project is becoming more of a reality. Activity stimulates activity."

Charles Pointe is expected to bring 17,000 construction jobs over the life of the project and will result in 11,000 permanent jobs for the area, according to an independent study.