by Jeff Toquinto
The Bridgeport News
Thursday, January 20, 2005
The temptation, admittedly, was there for Jamie Corton and others with Genesis Partners. In fact, the lure of a big payoff and quick development at Charles Pointe seemed too good to pass up. Corton passed it up anyway.
“We had two different groups that build (major retail outlets) contact us out of nowhere,” said Corton, the managing partner of Genesis Partners, the group responsible for the overall development of Charles Pointe. “The thing is, they wanted very key space at the development that we felt could be better used for something else. It was really hard for us to say no because we knew we were turning down lots of money.”
Money, however, would not be an adequate substitute for the vision of Charles Pointe. Corton said certain retailers would likely not fit into the vision that was set forth when planning for Charles Pointe began more than a decade ago.
“We could have gone that route and, honestly, we entertained (the developers),” said Corton of a major retail chain. “We have really high restrictions in building standards and a sense of what we want. I didn’t feel they wanted to do that. They may do it in Atlanta or certain other cities, but I don’t think they would have wanted to (meet our standards) here in West Virginia.”
Corton was quick to point out that there have been numerous other smaller groups that have contacted him about space at Charles Pointe. Although he won’t name all the names, he said the groups – mainly retail in nature – didn’t fall in line with what Genesis Partners would like to see develop at Charles Pointe.
“If we were in it for the quick buck, we could have gone that way (and accepted the offers) a long time ago,” said Corton. “…It’s not that we don’t like those (that wanted to come here), it’s just that for what we’re trying to do, which is more of town center project and an experience, it just didn’t mesh.”
What does mesh are the announced projects. Construction of an $8.7 million Wingate Inn is ahead of schedule and could be open in July, while bids have gone out for a $3 million Bridgeport Convention Center to be built by the city. Corton said the developers approaching him about the major retail outlet would have liked to have used the highly visible location where the Wingate Inn and convention center will be – visible to motorists on Interstate 79 at the Jerry Dove Drive exit to State Route 279 – to house it.
Corton is also confident construction will begin on a 160,000-square-foot office complex situated along 279. That structure already has space leased, according to Corton.
Other projects are also in the works. Corton said other hotels have shown interest in the site and that random phone calls of interest come in each week. He expects that to increase once a major marketing program begins this year by the recently retained Phillips Group, which is a public relations marketing firm based in Randolph County.
Also, Corton said a major announcement should be coming by the end of this month or in February. Considering Charles Pointe’s 2,000 acres includes planned space for commercial, residential, educational, recreational and numerous other needs for a planned community, the announcement could be just about anything. Corton is remaining tight-lipped about what that announcement involves.
“We want people to know that we’re not just tearing up land,” said Corton. “What we’re doing is very strategic.”