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Answer expected by October on potential major Panhandle employer

September 19, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County is among fewer than five areas attempting to land a company that could bring 2,500 to 3,000 jobs to the community, Berkeley County Development Authority Executive Director Stephen Christian said Monday.

“I think we will have a definite answer by October, possibly sooner,” said Christian, who declined to reveal the name of the company.

While no deal has been struck, sketch plans proposing the construction of more than 2 million square feet of industrial building space at Tabler Station Business Park south of Martinsburg were advanced Monday by the Berkeley County Planning Commission.

Dubbed “Project Java,” the plans propose construction of 2,500 parking spaces at the first of two warehouse/distribution center-type buildings in the business park, according to project Manager Ronald A. Mislowsky of Patton Harris Rust & Associates Inc.

The buildings would be constructed on two lots totaling 195 acres in the business park, and each structure would cover more than 1 million square feet, Christian said.

Mislowsky told the planning commissioners that he was representing the Berkeley County Development Authority, which started the planning approval process with no guarantee of landing the unnamed company’s investment.

The company would need “delivery” of this first phase of the project by the end of next summer, Mislowsky told the planning commission.

The first building would be built west of the Winchester & Western Railroad and the second phase would entail construction of a second building east of the rail line that splits the business park, Mislowsky said.

Mislowsky told planning commission members that the West Virginia Division of Highways only requested that an analysis be completed to determine whether a traffic signal is needed at Development and Business Park drives.

Christian said the facility would be similar to the Macy’s distribution facility under construction in Cumbo Yard Industrial Park, and added that the company is similar in quality and stature.

A corporate team is in the process of evaluating all of the information from the competing locations, said Christian, who previously indicated he had been working to recruit the investment since March.

“(We would be) proud to have them here, if we’re able to pull off the win,” Christian said.

The Macy’s online distribution center facility is about 1.3 million square feet.

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