With professional minor league baseball set to begin in the spring of 2014 at Charles Pointe, it may be even better news for some that professional minor league hockey may also be on its way. During Monday’s Bridgeport City Council work session, an official with Genesis Partners, the group responsible for the development of Charles Pointe, confirmed that there is interest for that sport to come to the city.
Following a presentation by Genesis Partners Managing Member Jamie Corton to Council, Rob Stuart, the Director of Planning and Engineering said their group has been approached by an interested party to host a team in Bridgeport. The team would be housed in a $55 million-plus civic center that is potentially in the works.
“There is certainly interest,” said Stuart. “I’m not able to name the parties involved, but we have definitely been approached about a team coming to this location.”
The possibility of a new civic center that would house a major basketball arena, as well as the potential for ice hockey, was part of the items spelled out by Corton, Stuart and Executive Director of Development Mark S. Dellana during the 45-minute presentation.
Along with the civic center component, plans were also spelled out for an indoor recreation complex that currently would cover 99,000 square feet that could be utilized through a deal with the YMCA or independently done, said Corton. The facility would also include a pool, although Corton said plans currently do not have the pool at the competition-required 50 meters, which Mayor Jim Christie said is something that should be considered.
“Making it 50 meters would make it available for competitive events would draw people from up and down the coast and easily fill up any hotels you have in your development,” Christie said.
Corton said there was room in the current design to increase the size of the pool. He said his group would consider any development proposal as part of the new Economic Opportunity Development District (EODD) that was given state approval. He also said he would welcome teaming up with the City of Bridgeport on upgrading the size of an aquatic facility as well as teaming up on any other venture that would benefit both parties and the rest of the area.
Other parts revealed in the advanced planning for future phases of Charles Pointe included a resort, an Italian Villa, a wellness center, a cultural center, development surrounding the Frontier League baseball stadium near the State Route 131 intersection of State Route 279, a senior center complex, and major commercial development. In fact, the area on the United Hospital Side of 279 near the exit ramp of Interstate 279 will likely be graded out to produce up to 230 flat, commercial-grade acres in the best case scenario. The worst case scenario would produce a little more than 200 acres. To make that happen, more than 10 million cubic yards of dirt need to be moved. In fact, all of the development areas
discussed were situated on that side of Route 279, which is across the roadway from where all the development currently exists on the commercial front.
Several new hotels were discussed, including the already announced Hawthorn Suites, as well as multiple restaurants, a water park with a wave pool, outdoor zip lines and other amenities. Even the existing Bridgeport Recreation Complex was included. Stuart and Corton said there is a chance the multi-purpose field directly beside the wagon wheel baseball configuration could be covered, have an artificial surface installed or both. At least one of the facilities talked about during the meeting – not the Recreation Complex – would be completely done with glass and include a retractable roof, while another feature involved maneuvering between planned facilities through a skyway.
“All of this is real,” said Corton. “We’re talking with national players on this.”
Corton said many of the plans were already in the works in 2008. At that time, he said, things went sour, alluding to the economy tanking, and plans were put on the backburner. Now, he said the environment for development in North Central West Virginia is ripe again and interested parties are back to the table.
One area where Corton was extremely confident things would continue to move ahead was on the residential front. He said plans are in the works for 400 to 500 townhouses and apartments.
“We can’t build them fast enough,” Corton said.