Cities across the United States are making development of their waterfronts a key to downtown revitalization. Morgantown is no exception, with the Caperton Trail and Hazel Ruby McQuain Park examples of successful efforts to make use of property along the Monongahela River.
Now officials want to revitalize the Wharf District along Don Knotts Boulevard by constructing a full-service hotel and conference center and a 750-space parking garage.
The cornerstone of the Wharf District revival is One Waterfront Place, a seven-story facility the WVU Foundation is building. The Foundation will occupy the buildings top floor and lease the other six to WVU . This $22.8 million cornerstone, part of WVUs Master Plan, is taking shape.
Workers are completing the 160,000-square-foot buildings steel frame and have started pouring concrete for the floors, says Scott Kelley, vice president of administration, finance and human resources at WVU .
“The project is moving along well,”Kelley says.”Its scheduled completion date is the end of March 2001. It will probably take a little time moving in, so I anticipate we probably wont be occupying the building until May or June.”
About 400 WVU employees will move into the facility, he added.
The first floor will house the Visitors Resource Center, Television Productions, Staff Council and a Distance Education classroom. The Department of Human Resources, Job Accommodation Network and New Student Services will occupy the second floor. Business and Procurement Services, Internal Auditing, Budget Planning and Institutional Analysis and Planning will move into the third floor.
The fourth floor will house all accounting units, and Information Technology will occupy the fifth floor. The sixth floor will house Telecommunications, Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities and Services.
“Were excited about this building,”Kelley says.”The Visitors Resource Center will be fantastic and in a large visible area. This facility will also provide better access for Human Resources. Having all the finance units together will certainly enhance efficiency.
“The proximity to the conference center and hotel is a huge plus for us because we will have a better place to meet with vendors and business officers from other schools,”he adds.”We will be able to hold more meetings here than, say, in Flatwoods.”
WVU will also have 450 spaces reserved in the parking garage, which is also starting to take shape with the foundation walls going up, Kelley says.
Platinum Properties of Morgantown is the project developer. Evan Terry Associates of Birmingham, Ala., is designing the building; March Westin Co. Inc. of Morgantown is the contractor.
Once completed, the Foundation will buy the facility from Platinum Properties and lease it to WVU for no more than $1.95 million a year for 30 years. At the end of the lease period, WVU will have the option to assume ownership of the building.
The new building will save the University money and consolidate lease payments, Kelley says. The Department of Public Safety and Parking Office will remain in leased space in the University Services Center until WVU finds a central location for the two operations.
“Our lease to the Foundation will be less than the leases we are currently paying for space were renting around town,”he says.”We will be getting about 25,000 additional square feet. And we will own the building at the end of 30 years. Financially, its a no-brainer.”