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W.Va. Wal-Mart, other stores ahead of schedule

August 12, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Construction of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in the northern Berkeley County community of Spring Mills is going well and the store is expected to open early next year, officials say.

Several other commercial enterprises also are springing up in that area.

"Everything is about a month and a half ahead of schedule," said Allen Henry, president of Panhandle Builders & Excavating Inc. The company and its subsidiary, Rental Properties Inc., has played an integral role in the development of the Wal-Mart, the anchor store for the Spring Mills Towne Center at Exit 20 of Interstate 81.

"We hope to hold a grand opening sometime in February," Wal-Mart spokesperson Kelly Hobbs said Friday.

Remaining chunks of the Towne Center, including plans for a McDonald's restaurant, a Centra Bank branch office and a 18,000 square foot retail shopping strip, have been approved since the Wal-Mart was given the OK in December 2006, according to Berkeley County Planning Department records.

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Henry said a ROCS gas station/covenience store is in the approval process and a vehicle maintenance business also is in the works for the development.

In addition to the Wal-Mart, Henry expects at least some of the other Towne Center businesses to be open in the first few months of 2008. And more will follow through the remainder of the year, he said.

Diagonally across the Towne Center, just west of I-81 on the north side of W.Va. 901, Henry said two hotels, another fast food restaurant and a bank are expected to be part of Potomac Station, a commercial-residential project of Rental Properties Inc.

Plans for a three-story, 76-room hotel and The Townes, a townhouse project have already been submitted, according to the county planning department's project database. In January 2006, Potomac Station was presented as a 115-acre development, with 21 commercial parcels and 334 townhouse units.

Combined with more than $1 million in traffic improvements, including turn lanes and traffic signals, Henry said he was aware of about $45 million in investments around where W.Va. 901, U.S. 11 and I-81 converge at Exit 20.

In addition to the commercial and residential development, Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said on Thursday that county residents will be asked "within the next 12 months" to approve a bond, which will include construction money for a new high school and primary school at Spring Mills. Both would be built less than a mile from the Towne Center.

School leaders in 2004 completed construction of Spring Middle School in 2004, just east of Potomack Intermediate School, which is within view of the new Wal-Mart.

Pamela Coyle, director of Berkeley County's public library system said officials are still awaiting a civil engineering report on two acres donated by Henry's company for a new north Berkeley County branch library building near Exit 20, just west of I-81 off T J Jackson Drive.

"The best case scenario is that we will be selecting an architect by October," Coyle said of the project.

Library officials still are in need of funding to build the library, Coyle said.

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