Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 2, 2013

Use Leatherwood site for horses, farms

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Using the 1400-acre Leatherwood Farm property as a venue for horse shows would be a great idea. This would draw visitors from outside the area , which would benefit restaurant and hotel businesses. Increased awareness could result in riding lessons and stables for urban/suburban dwellers, etc.

The use of this property as a shopping center is a terrible idea. The area’s population is relatively fixed, so demand is relatively fixed, so the best that could be expected is the transfer of businesses to a new center with resulting higher prices (leaving more empty structures, of which we already have more than enough).

Brick and mortar businesses already suffer from Internet competition, and with ever-increasing transportation costs, people from, say Wytheville, Va., are not going to drive to Bluefield to shop. They do come to ride the train at the city park.

One possibility which might be overlooked because “everybody knows” is farming. There is a demand for “grass-fed” beef, and cows eat the same grass as horses. Dr. Maguire ran a thriving apple orchard on East River Mountain for decades, and Cumberland Road was lined with farms and nurseries. With the advent of the Internet and 3-D (even 4-D) printing, a lot of people are going to want to relocate out of big cities and relocate where they want to live. (Back in my day a group of engineers left Appalachian Power to set up a business manufacturing transistors.) Some might enjoy living next to a horse farm, but who wants to live next door to a shopping center? I’ll guarantee you that when the people who live on College Drive look out their windows, they look at the mountain, not the shopping center.

Joe Hall