Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 18, 2012

City official: Land could be attractive to future business

GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Property off Interstate 77 near the East River Mountain Tunnel could help Bluefield attract new businesses seeking immediate access off a major highway, according to the city’s economic development director.

The city of Bluefield owns approximately 30 acres of land near Exit 1 off I-77. There is currently a petition before the Mercer County Commission to allow the city to bring the land into its boundaries. Earlier this week, the commission conducted a public hearing, but nobody asked to speak about the proposed annexation.

An annexation would not include any private property, said Greg Shrewsbury, Bluefield’s economic development director. The current plan is to make part of the property the new location of the Bluefield Transit Authority.

“A small part, three acres, will be used for the transit authority,” Shrewsbury said. “The balance we’re going to market for commercial use.”

Property near the highway could be a location for a variety of enterprises ranging from warehouses to retail outlets.

“It could be anything from logistical facilities to a type of retail outlet like a gas station,” Shrewsbury said.

In terms of business expansion, Bluefield could develop in the U.S. Route 460 and John Nash Boulevard area, he said.

“John Nash has quick access to I-77, which makes it attractive for retail, lodging, even logistics like warehouses,” Shrewsbury said.

Bluefield will have to think about what sort of businesses would want to lease a location near I-77, he added.

“The city will probably end up leasing those parcels to commercial developers,” Shrewsbury said.

Once businesses start establishing themselves on the new property, the city can generate more business and occupation taxes to fund city services.

“People don’t realize that the city has to have those fees basically to maintain the  city, provide public services, police and fire protection. To run the city, you have to have those types of businesses to generate revenue,” he said.

Annexing the property will require three public hearings before the Mercer County Commission. A second hearing will be conducted on Dec. 11, followed by the final one Jan. 8, 2013. Both will be held in the commission’s chambers at the Mercer County Courthouse.

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com.