ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Developer Jeff Albrecht said the winter freeze is only a slight setback for his new 15-acre Kettler's Ridge retail project, located across National Road from Whiteside Chevrolet Buick Cadillac GMC near the Ohio Valley Mall and Plaza.
Retail offerings are growing in Belmont County, from the new Boscov's and upgraded Macy's department store to the new Kettler's Ridge, which borders National Road to the south, Rehm Road in the area of Kirke's Homemade Ice Cream to the west, with Stewart's RV Center to the east.
Once completed, the area will include a new Advance Auto Parts store, a CVS pharmacy and a Sheetz gas station/convenience store. It will also eventually feature a new hotel, as well as a new restaurant.
The offerings are leading Belmont County back down the road of solid sales tax collections through retail outlets.
"We are still pretty much on schedule. We have not been able to get a lot of work done over the past few weeks because the temperatures make it hard on the equipment," Albrecht said.
With bulldozers and backhoes on site daily throughout the fall, Albrecht said his contractors have moved more than 372,000 cubic yards of dirt. He hopes to be constructing some of the buildings by March.
"There is a lot of traffic at that Interstate 70 exit. We are really excited about this development," Albrecht said.
"This is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the new developments we are going to see because of all the work and the new money coming into the area," Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas added in reference to the infusion of workers and money related to the burgeoning oil and natural gas industry.
Thomas said the development will require some changes to the traffic patterns along National Road, as there will be an access road built from National Road to reach the site. There will also be some other slight changes involving traffic near the Ohio Valley Mall and Ohio Valley Plaza, he said.
Albrecht said he did not yet decide on what brand of hotel to open. Another hotel would be in addition to the 85-room Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham that recently opened near the St. Clairsville Hampton Inn, as well as the new 55-room Comfort Inn along National Road between St. Clairsville and Blaine.
The demand for Belmont County hotel rooms is high because of the oil and natural gas industry workers in the area, as a new 76-room Days Inn & Suites is nearly complete directly across from Union Local High School in Morristown.
The Kettler's Ridge project is taking place now, shortly after extensive renovations occurred at the Ohio Valley Mall last year. The Boscov's department store, which occupies the space originally home to J.C. Penney from 1978 to 2007, is now open, while Macy's recently upgraded its facility.
"It is a great time to be in Belmont County," Albrecht added.