Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


April 15, 2014

Lodging woes: Planned developments will help

— — New lodging facilities, including hotels, motels, apartments and campgrounds, are still urgently needed in parts of our region.

For example, the need for new lodging is particularly great in McDowell County where many federal prison employees and teachers are still commuting to their jobs while living in neighboring counties. That’s due in part to a lack of modern and affordable housing in Welch and other parts of McDowell County.

But we are encouraged by several recent new housing announcements for the region. The first project is planned for McDowell County where development officials are currently seeking proposals for the Stoneridge Housing Development.

The project is planned along 13.2 acres of land, and will incorporate a mixture of townhouses and single family homes that will be available for rent or sale.

Many teachers, along with federal prison employees who live in neighboring counties such as Mercer and Wyoming, are looking for modern housing options that are closer to their jobs in McDowell County, according to county Economic Development Director Penni Adams.

Adams says the authority has been repeatedly told that the reason many people leave McDowell County is due to a lack of quality housing and rental units.

In neighboring Mercer County, a 30 to 40 unit apartment complex is planned just off of U.S. Route 52, near Brushfork and Bluefield.

The Mercer County Commission voted last week to green light the apartment complex project. It will be developed along 5.1 acres of land near the existing 84 Lumber.

The total number of apartments, and their cost, have not yet been determined. The plans also call for the development of a club house and management and maintenance facilities at the site, according to Michael Dektas, a project director with the Development-Miller/Valentine Group.

The company told the commissioners last week that approximately 45 percent of all existing rental property in Mercer County was built prior to 1970, which points to the need for modern rental property options in the region.

Both of the proposed housing projects are welcomed, and will certainly help in addressing the lodging needs in Mercer and McDowell counties. But this is just a start.

There is still a great need for additional lodging facilities, including rental properties for out-of-town visitors who will once again be riding the Hatfield-McCoy Trail this spring and summer.

It is our hope that additional entrepreneurs will step forward in the coming months to help address this continuing lodging need.


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