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Unnamed company considers locating in Berkeley Co.

September 13, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A company that needs more than 2 million square feet of industrial building space apparently is considering locating in Berkeley County, but no deal has been struck, a county official said Tuesday.

Stephen Christian, executive director of the Berkeley County Development Authority, said he’s been working to recruit the investment since March, but he did not reveal the name of the company.

“We are still fighting to win this project or some portion thereof,” Christian said in an interview.

The development authority’s effort to recruit the company surfaced on the Sept. 19 meeting agenda for the Berkeley County Planning Commission.

The development authority has asked the planning commission to recommend a sketch plan for “Project Java” in the Tabler Station Business Park, Christian confirmed.

The project plan submitted on behalf of the unnamed company proposes construction of two industrial buildings on two lots totaling 195 acres in the business park. Each building would be in excess of 1 million square feet, according to Christian.

The buildings along with employee and truck parking would be built about a half mile west of U.S. 11 on the north side of Business Park Drive, according to county planning department documents.

Christian said the resources that the development authority devoted to preparing the sketch and site plans, including engineering costs and county filing fees, was worth it considering the size of the potential investment.

The Macy’s online distribution center facility that is now under construction near Martinsburg is about 1.3 million square feet.

The faster required permits and approvals are received, the more appealing the county is to the company, which is “extremely” interested in realizing a quick turnaround on its investment, Stephen said.

Officials with Macy’s similarly want to see a return on the millions of dollars they are investing as soon as they can, Christian said.

“It is entirely possible that the company will not locate ‘Project Java’ to Berkeley County, or we may get only one part of it,” Christian said in an email Tuesday.

“But my focus has been, and continues to be, on demonstrating to the company that Berkeley County is the best location for (the) entire project.”

While the economy is “extremely lean,” Christian said in the interview that the development authority has found certain industries, such as the food industry, that are doing just fine.

Christian said there also has been an explosion in construction of secure data centers, which are often used to provide a backup to other systems and protect against the loss of information.

“They are cropping up all over the place,” Christian said.

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