The State Journal
By Alisha Grass, Staff Writer
BRIDGEPORT, (November 6, 2000, Page 1)
An estimated $750 million planned community will be the home of thousands of jobs and hundreds of families in Bridgeport over the next 10 years, its developers hope.
In an announcement ceremony, Oct. 25 in Bridgeport, developers and local officials unveiled plans for Charles Pointe as well as the first investments slated for development, which include a $1.5 million conference center and $7.5 million luxury hotel.
The 10,000-square foot conference center, which is expected to be completed late next year, will be owned and operated by the city of Bridgeport, a partner in the development.
The luxury hotel will be constructed and operated by The Humphrey Companies, a group of Maryland-based full-service real estate firms, and also a partner in Charles Pointe.
It will be a community unlike any other in the state. Charles Pointe will be the home to commercial, academic, research, government, retail, housing, recreation and hotel/conference facilities.
Developers James Corton and his wife, Jennifer Compton Corton, are two integral partners responsible for the planned community.
"We compared our original plans to the best developers in the world," James Corton said. "After a lot of time, energy and marketing strategies, we knew it was the right thing to do for our state."
Charles Pointe will be located on 2,000 acres along Interstate 79 in Harrison County.
The Cortons acquired the property from Jennifer’s father, Charles E. "Jim" Compton, founder of Grafton Coal Co. and inventor of the coal auger.
James Corton, president of Genesis Partners, said "We want it (Charles Pointe) to be a vision of what West Virginia’s future can be."
The couple created Genesis Partners to coordinate investment activities around the development.
The city of Bridgeport will be instrumental in assisting the development with infrastructure.
Bridgeport Mayor L. J. Timms said, "Charles Pointe provides an excellent opportunity for our city to grow, not just in numbers, but in the quality of life and new jobs."
He said he hopes the development will attract new businesses that any city would want to have.
"We’d like to see high-tech facilities come to Bridgeport – those businesses that offer high wages and low pollution," he said.
"It’ll help diversify the city," he said.
Charles Pointe will be within the city limits of Bridgeport. According to the mayor, based on acreage, Charles Pointe will increase the size of the city 15-20 percent.
Plans for the development have been in the making for seven years, and West Virginia University (WVU) has helped provide expertise and advice in the planning and functional use of Charles Pointe.
However, WVU President David C. Hardesty, Jr., said the university has no financial obligations to the development.
A memorandum of understanding between Hardesty and Genesis Partners commits both parties to work together to develop the area.
This includes defining strategies that will promote the development and growth in research and commercial applications such as new technologies, bio-technologies and forensics, according to Hardesty.
"Education, training and research are critical for the success of any community and WVU stands ready to assist the fortunate occupants of Charles Pointe as they grow, learn and stimulate the economy," he said.
Charles Pointe will entice the kind of people and businesses needed to promote a solid economy in the state, he continued.
"This is good pioneering for West Virginia. Hopefully, it’ll build confidence in other people to continue this type of community throughout the state.
As the largest master-planned community in West Virginia’s history, Charles Pointe will include 250 middle-income "smart" homes (Internet-wired), several recreational trails and parks, an 18-hole public championship golf course, a Global Village town center, with international cafes and retail stores.
An amphitheater, education research complex and a corporate research and development center also will be part of Charles Pointe.
One purpose of the development, according to James Corton, is to prepare West Virginia for the new and horizontal economy, based on knowledge and technology, not goods and labor.
Also, he said, Charles Pointe will create a holistic agenda for West Virginians, producing a quality environment for work, play and residency.
Lastly, the Cortons and other partners hope to attract talent to the area. "Talent is our factor for production," he said.
"It’s extremely important to lure and retain talented and skilled workers for the New Economy.
"We understand this concept will take our state into the future.
However, the most challenging aspect of the development, he continued, is that some people don’t have the vision – yet.
James Corton said the new community will be a model for the state.
"It will be a place where technology and commerce come together in an environment that holds sacred the beauty and history that is ours," he said.
It will be a place where James and Jennifer Corton call home as well.