By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Land where the city of Bluefield could expand its economic base is now heading into the city limits.
The Mercer County Commission approved a request Tuesday to bring approximately 30 acres of land along John Nash Boulevard into Bluefield’s city limits. Greg Shrewsbury, the city’s economic development director, said Bluefield already owns the property.
“Three acres of that will be used by the Bluefield Transit Authority,” Shrewsbury said, adding that the authority intends to move there sometime between October and December next year.
The property is located in the area where John Nash Boulevard meets Exit 1 off Interstate 77, Shrewsbury said. The annexation will not be complete until the county commission conducts public hearings concerning it.
Besides all the existing acreage, Bluefield also owns the site’s existing garage the transit authority will utilize, he said. A $3 million Federal Transportation Administration grant will fund the move.
The three acres the transit authority will use leaves 27 acres open to development, Farley said.
“Approximately three to four acres can now be ready for commercial use, and obviously once we get it annexed, it will become a selling point and the city will be able to lease the property to any business,” Shrewsbury said.
Establishing businesses in the area will be a long process, but the proximity to Interstate 77 and a good traffic county can help attract new establishments, he added.
Over the long term, new development in Bluefield will be in the eastern part of Bluefield in the vicinity of Route 460 and John Nash Boulevard. One possible site for new enterprises, which has 27 acres, is already in the city and belongs to a private developer, Shrewsbury said.
“If you look at the long-range plan, major development will be out that way,” he stated.
One thing that would help make an Exit 1 business area a success is attracting ATV rider traffic, Shrewsbury added. The goal is to sell Bluefield as the gateway to southern West Virginia and the ATV trailhead in Bramwell.
One part of this plan is to work with the state Department of Highways to create signs directing ATV traffic to Bluefield and Bramwell.
“Economic planning for Bluefield is in place. I’ll be delivering an economic plan to the (Bluefield Board of Supervisors) in January,” Shrewsbury said.
An economic team has divided the plan into categories including commercial, industrial parks and recreation. There is also a component in which Bluefield State College will provide input, he said.
“Fundamentally, as we’re planning, our projects are going to be long term,” Shrewsbury concluded. “And in the meantime, we really need folks to spend dollars in Bluefield, to support our small businesses. This is vital to the entire region.”҂