The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

October 27, 2012

$70 million complex coming to Sunnyside

WVU, Paradigm are partnering for retail, residential development

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University announced Friday it’s partnering with Paradigm Development Group LLC to build a $70 million residential and retail complex called University Place, a project school officials say will transform a blighted section of Morgantown and create much-needed quality housing.

The build-out is expected to be done by the fall semester of 2014, but the demolition of existing houses and at least one bar in the Sunnyside area will begin soon: in late December or early January. WVU said it will immediately begin contacting students to help them find other housing for the spring semester.

Dean of Students Corey Farris said nearly 100 students may be affected in the initial phase, though he received the list of addresses Friday morning and hadn’t yet determined the precise number. Those who live in the area bound by University, Third, Houston and Grant streets will be moved out first.

WVU will work with them to ensure that they don’t face higher rents as a result, Farris said. WVU will compensate either the student or the landlord for what it considers “reasonable” price differences. WVU also will hire local movers to assist with the relocations.

“The bottom line is, no one’s rent is going to go up,” he said. “We know it’s disruptive to the people involved, so we’ll do everything we can to make it easy on them. We’re not going to leave them in the lurch.”

There are many options for those displaced, Farris said, including The Augusta apartments, university-owned apartments near the medical center and traditional residence halls with meal plans. Farris’ staff has also reached out to landlords with vacancies.

This week, WVU’s Board of Governors approved a $14.5 million real estate deal with Paradigm and RCL Holding for 39 parcels on five acres in the run-down section of Morgantown that’s long been dominated by old student housing.

Though the deal was reached in May, it was only revealed to legislators in a report last month and made public this week — a level of secrecy that has spawned harsh criticism of WVU on social media. Student Government Association President Zach Redding sits on the Board of Governors, but he didn’t immediately return messages about the project Friday.

WVU President Jim Clements says the project is a transformative initiative for a part of town that needs it. It also supports WVU’s master plan, which includes creating more housing to accommodate the school’s ever-expanding enrollment.

Narvel Weese, vice president for administration and finance, says the area is near Summit and Honors Halls, and just a few blocks from the downtown campus.

With 297,000 square feet of rentable space and 268,000 square feet of student space — or about 980 beds in 265 apartments —  University Place promises to be “amazing,” Weese said. The plan calls for two multistory buildings and 2 acres for about 400 parking spaces.

The residential units will have private bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchens, wireless high-speed Internet, air conditioning and laundry facilities — all amenities that Weese says students have long requested.

“In a time when other parts of the country are suffering economically, Morgantown and WVU keep making smart investments that keep the community economically viable,” he said.

The designers are Grimm and Parker Architects of Calverton, Md.

Townhouses are also planned, separated from the two main buildings by a pedestrian path.

Mayor Jim Manilla says the new construction will not only have a long-term positive impact on the community, but could also help curtail the street and trash bin fires that students have made the area known for.

The development will also include nearly 30,000 square feet of retail space, with tenants that are expected to include a grocery store, a restaurant and a fitness center. A substation for WVU Police is also planned; officers currently set up command centers outside Summit Hall when they’re bracing for postgame revelry and rioting.

University Place is expected to generate $1.5 million in construction-related business and occupational taxes in the early phases, plus taxes on student housing and retail rents in the future. Down the road, officials like Manilla hope the neighborhood will attract other businesses.

Just last month, WVU acquired more than 25 acres, including rental properties, three other lots and an unoccupied apartment building, for about $10 million. Last year, WVU bought the Augusta apartment complex property out of bankruptcy for $13.1 million.  

WVU has been aggressive about acquiring property when it makes sense, and Board of Governors Chairman Drew Payne said Thursday that people should expect that to continue “where it makes sense for the university and the city,” particularly around the Evansdale campus.


Text Only
West Virginia
  • Some state Democrats flip to GOP

    As Republicans rally for more control in West Virginia’s long-time Democratic Legislature, a few Democrats have jumped ship to the GOP and are challenging former colleagues in midterm races.
    Republicans face their biggest election opportunity in decades in the House of Delegates, where a four-seat swing would put them in power for the first time in 85 years.

    April 20, 2014

  • Gee’s move could save Ohio State millions

    Ohio State University expects to save millions of dollars because former president Gordon Gee is giving up part of his retirement package as he becomes president of West Virginia University for the second time.

    April 19, 2014

  • W.Va. AG court filings: Dismiss gun law question

    The attorney general says a court challenge should be dismissed over whether West Virginians can bring guns to city recreational facilities that hold school events.
    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s filings Thursday argue the city of Charleston shouldn’t receive court guidance on how to implement a state gun law.

    April 18, 2014

  • Energy-state Dems split from Obama

    Scrapping to keep a West Virginia Senate seat Democratic in a state that’s sprinted to the right, Natalie Tennant is counting on her allegiance to the coal industry to separate herself from an unpopular President Barack Obama.
    Her approach reflects common Democratic strategy and tactics this midterm election year in energy-producing states that lean Republican: Sen. Mary Landrieu is vying for a fourth term representing Louisiana; Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is running for re-election for the first time; and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    April 17, 2014

  • Official: $2M in chemical spill costs reimbursable

    Public agencies and nonprofits that helped after a Jan. 9 chemical leak into the water supply could receive $2 million in reimbursements for their emergency work, a West Virginia homeland security official said.
    Federal and state emergency officials briefed fire departments, paramedics and other government groups Wednesday on how to recoup costs.

    April 17, 2014

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out for coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Many schools already meet new mandate for breakfast

    Many West Virginia public schools have changed the way they serve breakfast to students ahead of a requirement that goes into effect in September.

    April 14, 2014

  • W.Va. grower promotes unmodified feed corn

    Lyle Tabb is hoping that his non-genetically modified corn will take off with farmers who can charge top dollar for “all natural” eggs.
    Genetically modified or GMO corn has greatly simplified the process of getting rid of weeds, but has also substantially increased the amount of a chemical call glyphosate.

    April 13, 2014

  • Geologists link small quakes to fracking

    Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.
    A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”

    April 12, 2014

  • Phares looks forward to retirement

    James Phares looked forward to the challenge and opportunity to help make a difference in a state education system under fire when he was hired in late 2012 as West Virginia’s schools superintendent.
    After 18 months, Phares will be stepping down on June 30 — which he said was set long ago as the day at age 61 that he’d walk with his wife into retirement.

    April 11, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads