PARKERSBURG - A day after the West Virginia National Guard announced plans to build a new armory at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, Mayor Bob Newell said officials will continue to pursue development options.
Newell said there is still interest in developing Fort Boreman.
"There are possibilities," he said. "We still lack space for conferences."
But the mayor admitted the city was back at square one.
Thursday's announcement to build the new West Virginia National Guard Readiness Center at WVU-P caught a number of officials by surprise and brought an abrupt end to years of work on the part of local officials.
Newell said the city's only interest was the conference and convention component.
"That would bring economic development," he said.
Newell noted the idea was not to make money for the city, which would have seen revenue from Business and Occupation Taxes, but rather to attract additional hotels and retail outlets.
Initially, representatives from the National Guard and local officials desired the Fort Boreman site, but the project outgrew it, Newell said.
"Boreman didn't fit," he said.
Newell said that left other properties, but that didn't include an accompanying hotel.
"Once the hotel was gone, the convention part was gone," he said. "That was our interest."
Newell said the Guard was struggling to find a place that met all the criteria.
"First and foremost, it had to fit the Guard, the community and support a hotel," he said.
When it became apparent the hotel component and the convention and conference center were no longer going to mesh with the Guard's plans, Newell said the Guard had to move on.
In December, while attending the WVU-P commencement, officials discovered a potential site on campus. The site was good for the Guard's need, but not the other components that would lure economic development.
When officials met with the Guard last month, several sites were discussed, but Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said scant mention was made of the property at WVU-P.
Newell and others were surprised by the Guard's announcement Thursday. He admitted he was disappointed the convention center project never reached fruition.
"It's not what we shot for," he said. "We had a different vision, and it didn't work out.