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[Morgantown] The Augusta on the Square development

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Groundbreaking Launches Square at Falling Run

"Designed to rejuvenate the blighted Sunnyside district near West Virginia University's downtown campus, the Square at Falling Run was touted in May 2003 by then-Morgantown City Planner Jim Wood as "the most significant urban revitalization project ever proposed in the state of West Virginia." "

Someone should go grab photographs! This is great news for Morgantown, as it is seeing increasing downtown development.

Web-site for the project

Article information: "Groundbreaking Launches Square at Falling Run, by Pam Kasey, State Journal, January 18, 2007."

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Hasn't West Virginia suffered enough economic hardship for them? You would think that they would try to turn free enterprise loose so it can flourish. Sad to see the ideology of "smart" growth take hold when it only harms communities.

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Hasn't West Virginia suffered enough economic hardship for them? You would think that they would try to turn free enterprise loose so it can flourish. Sad to see the ideology of "smart" growth take hold when it only harms communities.

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Morgantown rentals seek to set new standard

By Kellen Henry, Charleston Daily Mail, September 20, 2007

Morgantown's Sunnyside neighborhood is receiving a facelift with new luxury properties. The neighborhood was once one of the most notorious and blighted in the state. One of the new developments is the $26 million Augusta on the Square apartment complex that replaced substandard rental housing along the stadium loop section of University Avenue and Falling Run Road that is near West Virginia University's downtown campus.

Two of the large buildings are setting a new standard for rental housing in the city. The rental rates range from $445 a month for a bunk bed in a shared bedroom to $915 a month for a single-occupancy apartment, and is more expensive than the $300 to $600 a month that students pay for units elsewhere. The Augusta units, however, are furnished, and include all utilities and Internet access. About 2/3 of the 296 bedrooms in the 156 apartments are filled.

The complex comes with 24-hour security and key cards, and underground parking spaces. It's facade features a brick and stacked-stone exterior that is meant to look like WVU buildings such as the newly renovated Oglebay Hall

The 18-month project was finished in 8.5 months, but work has been ongoing since 1980, when the developers began buying lots and demolishing houses to form the current acreage. Ground was broken in January 2007. $2.5 million dollars in a special kind of financing will pay for upgraded infrastructure surrounding the complex, and allows developers to delay paying the higher property taxes that normally would result from increased property values caused by the development. Instead of paying the higher taxes, the developer devotes that money to debt taken on for the project.

The 29-acres surrounding the development are some of the most valuable in the state, which can fetch more than a million dollars per acre. The land is considered part of the city's "Sunnyside Up" neighborhood revitalization project. Morgantown has invested in the development by amending the city's zoning laws and helping developers obtain a $5 million state economic grant, the special tax financing and other financing through the sale of bonds, and are also part of negotiations with prospective investors, bankers and financers.

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With the Augusta apartments completed, the developers will begin work on the next phases of the $250 million Square at Falling Run. Within three to 10 years, the developers hope to straighten out University Avenue to provide space for retail shops, a hotel, extensions of university buildings and apartments -- all over a parking garage. The concept has been approved by the city, and work should begin in spring 2008.

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