FAYETTEVILLE, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – Fayette County’s Wolf Creek Park is looking to develop more land, but Fayette County Commissioners need more information before they are willing to commit any funding.
Wolf Creek Park is a thousand-acre mixed-use planned development, with specific areas designated for commercial development, residential development, environmental education and recreation. The park’s operation is made possible by the Fayette County Urban Renewal Authority (URA), the Fayette County Commission, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) and the Resource Coordinator’s Office.
During a special Fayette County Commission meeting held Thursday morning, Jim Christie, a consultant hired by the URA and an employee of CEC Engineering, explained the park’s plans.
According to Christie, two developers have expressed interest in a portion of the park’s property if it can be developed prior to purchase.
The park hopes to extend its road by 2,800 feet and develop 160 acres of the property to include basic utilities to allow for possible future development.
Christie informed the commissioners that developers interested in the property will look at the property’s debt versus the cost of development, so the park wants to pay off both costs to increase desirability.
The park is currently $2.1 million in debt, and the development project will cost another $2.1 million for a total of $4.2 million.
“We are trying to get the debt reduced and get the opportunity to help support the road and make the property more valuable to developers,” Christie said.
While a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) confirmed that water and sewer can be developed on the 160 acres, Christie was not able to say how much the developers are willing to pay for the property once it’s been developed.
This lack of information voiced concerns from all three commissioners, especially Commissioner Tom Louisos.
“We need more information before the commission can go any further,” Louisos stated, adding that the commission can’t be expected to commit upwards of $2 million without knowing how much money the property will generate.
Executive Director of the NRGRDA Jenna Belcher joined Thursday’s meeting virtually and asked that Christie get more information on the property’s sale, including what is the break-even price potential developers are willing to pay and how much they are willing to pay per acre.
Belcher stated that this information would help the NRGRDA determine how to help subsidize project costs.
Christie asked for time to speak with the developers but guessed that a developer’s ideal price per acre would be anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.
After making a few calculations, Fayette County Commission President John Brenneman discovered that developers would have to pay $26,000 an acre to cover the cost of paying off the debt and the costs of developing the property.
Brenneman said that even if the commission were to meet a little over halfway at $14,000 per acre they would still be losing money.
While Commissioners agreed that they needed specific information before making a decision to commit any money, Commissioner Allison Taylor stated that the commission also needed to consider how much the developed property would bring to the county once it can be taxed.
“We don’t have a problem with the $2.1 million for development,” Louisos told Christie. “But not without knowing what developers are willing to pay for the property.”
Christie asked the commission to give him eight weeks to gather more information. The Wolf Creek Park land development will be placed on a future Fayette County Commission agenda.