Businesses on Corridor G still growing
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 25 years after the four-lane highway was completed, business continues to boom along Corridor G in South Charleston.
Over the last year, the area has seen the opening of new stores and is seeing new investment by current businesses.
Bob Anderson, South Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director, said the area is living up to the dreams leaders envisioned nearly a quarter-century ago.
"This is my 45th year working with South Charleston and I've never seen it as busy as this," Anderson said.
He said he remembered standing out on a vacant mountaintop removal site with former Gov. Arch Moore in the mid-1980s and couldn't believe how far along the area has come since.
"When we broke ground on Corridor G, Gov. Moore said, 'This is going to be one of the hottest developments in the years to come,'" Anderson said.
Anderson said he got to talk to the former Republican governor about eight months ago, and talked with him about how much the area has grown.
"I said we now have 18 million people going to Corridor G and back each year, and he said to me, 'Bob, we must have done something right,'" Anderson said. "I was so proud of that."
Development kicked into high gear after South Charleston ran sewer lines to the area in the early 1990s.
Soon after, retailers like Sam's, Walmart and Lowe's decided to locate.
More stores followed at the Shops at Trace Fork and Dudley Farms Plaza.
The retail hub now spans hundreds of acres straddling the Charleston and South Charleston city limits.
The major retailer to move in over the past year was Cabela's, which opened an 80,000-square-foot store in August.
Sportsmen throughout the area were eager to see the store open last year. It actually did some limited early sales following the June 29 derecho, when the store shipped in generators to sell during the prolonged power outages that followed the storm.
Beauty products retailer Ulta Beauty also announced last year it would locate its first West Virginia store in a 12,000-square-foot space that used to be attached to the Goody's store in Dudley Farms Plaza.
Food options also expanded last year.
In February, Qdoba Mexican Grill opened at Dudley Farms. The Mexican restaurant opened near the new Five Guys hamburger and fries restaurant, which opened in November 2011.
Anderson said South Charleston now boasts a total of 94 restaurants within city limits.
The Target location in the Shops of Trace Fork will also boast a Starbucks in coming months. Once opened, the location will be the third full-service Starbucks location in the area.
The others are located at the Charleston Town Center and inside Thomas Hospital in South Charleston.
Target officials began a massive renovation of the store the day after Christmas. A full-service Starbucks coffee shop will be added to the retail store, along with a fresh produce and meat section.
The Mens Warehouse along Trace Fork Boulevard also renovated its 5,200-square-foot store last year. It has been operating for 10 years in the brick building at the intersection of RHL and Trace Fork boulevards.
Anderson said a combination of business and occupation tax breaks, free parking and no user fee help drive businesses to the area.
Looking into the future, he said developers are now looking to level off a portion of the mountain next to the South Charleston ice skating rink to open up about a dozen more acres of flat land for development.
They also plan to work with the state Division of Highways to develop a road connecting Jefferson Road to Trace Fork Boulevard to alleviate traffic backups.
Officials are waiting for enough state funding to become available so they can move forward with the road's construction.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5148.