Staying the Course Not Always an Easy Chore

The Bridgeport News 

Thursday, January 27, 2005

For most of us, seeing is believing.  For the past four years, there’s not been too much taking place at the Charles Pointe development just off Interstate 79 near and around the Jerry Dove Drive intersection that would make people believe the development was moving ahead. Sure, there’s been plenty of earth that’s been moved.  And, yes, there’s been a lot of infrastructure in the form of water and sewer lines installed.  Outside of that, until last year, bricks and mortar projects weren’t happening. The view most folks have had of the first phase of Charles Pointe at the Jerry Dove Drive exit was nothing more than a nice level piece of land.  The view those that ventured on to the Jerry Dove Drive exit and on to State Route 279 had was nothing more than earth moving and earth moving equipment. In other words, there was little to see.  That’s part of the reason some in the area have been skeptical about what will take place at the 2,000 acre plot of land that is the Charles Pointe Development.  Since the planned $750 million community was first announced to the public in October 2000, little in the way of construction had happened. Of course, that all changed last year when work began on the $8.7 million Wingate Inn.  It will continue to head in that direction in the next few months when work begins on the $3 million convention center that will be built by the city of Bridgeport’s development authority. The Wingate Inn and the convention center will be two of the main buildings at Charles Pointe visible from the interstate.  It could have just as easily been a big, old major retailer there as well. Only cigarette stores and establishments housing video poker machines go up at a faster rate than most retail super stores in West Virginia.  Had a couple of developers had their way, Charles would have been home to yet another. For the company in charge of the development of Charles Pointe – Genesis Partners – it certainly had to be tough to turn down offers of a major retail giant.  Not only would it have brought in plenty of dollars in an expedient manner, it would have drawn other retailers to the site like moths to a flame.  It would have also provided a huge traffic flow to the area that would have made marketing other property at Charles Pointe a much easier task.  On top of all that, it would have erased the doubts any in the public may have had about the development. Thankfully, Jamie Corton, the managing partner of Genesis Partners, and others in his group, said no.  For all that some of the more popular major retailers may bring to the table, it didn’t meet the vision originally intended for Charles Pointe. While staying the course with the vision for Charles Pointe may have been a difficult thing to do, it was the right thing to do.  West Virginia’s hillsides are already littered with too many retail super stores, many of which suck the life out of other small businesses in their communities and their downtowns.  Besides, we have enough of those types in the area serving the Bridgeport populace. We’re glad that Charles Pointe is headed in another direction.  We’re glad that they’re sticking to their guns and want to make the site a true experience for individuals living, visiting, recreating or shopping there. Bringing in a retail super store wouldn’t have made Charles Pointe unique.  It just would have made them part of the crowd.  Everyone should be able to see that.