Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

August 28, 2013

Room to grow

Leatherwood property still key

— — There is still room to grow in Virginia’s Tallest Town. And the Leatherwood property could hold the key to future development in Bluefield, Va.

A crowd of about 80 people attended a Community Investment and Development Symposium last week held at Fincastle on the Mountain. The purpose of the meeting was to demonstrate the abundance of locations ready for development in the Bluefield, Va., area, and what officials described as the immediate need to take action.

In terms of developable space, the Leatherwood property has 1,400 prime acres of land available near the border of Virginia and West Virginia. Douglas Woloshin and Derrick Ruble, both representatives of the Leatherwood Corporation, gave a presentation last week that detailed the many available building sites for commercial and residential development that the corporation has to offer.

Ruble said Leatherwood has 1,400 acres that are all zoned and ready for a variety of commercial or residential developments. “At this time, we’re looking at any big joint venture and we’re ready to proceed with that,” Ruble said.

Many local residents will remember that a large shopping center area with additional residential housing units was once planned for the Leatherwood site. But that was before the onset of the financial storm known as the Great Recession, which tempered growth across the region and the nation. The once promising project was ultimately stalled due to the recession.

The Leatherwood property also is one of three sites still under consideration for the proposed multi-purpose/equestrian center vision for Mercer County. Members of the  multi-purpose committee are awaiting a new report due in September which should help to shed some new light on which of the three sites would be best for the proposed multi-purpose center. The other two sites being considered for the multi-purpose center are two pieces of property located near Exit 14 in Mercer County.

It’s good to see that efforts are once again underway to market and develop the Leatherwood property. We don’t care if it is a multi-purpose center, shopping center or combination of housing and shopping, as long as the property is developed and new jobs are created for the region.

In addition to the Leatherwood property, both the Rich property and the St. Clair property are available for development, according to Bluefield, Va., Town Manager Mike Watson.

Watson and Charlie Stacy, the Eastern District member on the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, both correctly point to the need for additional housing in the town. It is estimated that about 250 students will be enrolled at the new Bluefield College School of Dental Medicine at the new Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Park. And those students will need places to rent and live once the dental school opens.

But development of the Leatherwood property is still key to future growth in the town.

It only makes sense to develop both sides of U.S. Route 460 at the border. And if 1,400 acres of land is available — all zoned and ready for commercial or residential growth — we see no reason why the property shouldn’t be developed.

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