Article by: Ben Conley, The Dominion Post
MORGANTOWN — Bass Pro Shops is coming to Monongalia County.
An announcement Monday from WestRidge Inc. and the regional hunting, fishing and outdoor retailer said the store will anchor WestRidge Commons, a mixed-used development across from the University Town Centre.
Holly Childs, director of business development and external relations for WestRidge, said the chain is targeting a 2021 opening.
She said the store will sit on a 5.5-acre plot situated “at the front door” of the development, adjacent to I-79. The building is expected to be just over 50,000 square feet.
“Currently, this one-of-a-kind Bass Pro store design is being refined and the site-specific development work is set to begin next spring,” Childs said.
This is the second major announcement of the summer for WestRidge Commons, the retail-focused portion of the 1,000-acre WestRidge development.
In June, Governor Jim Justice was on hand as Menards made public its plans to open a 173,000 square-foot store in the commons.
In Monday’s press release, Justice said he’s a lifelong outdoorsman and looking forward to the Morgantown location joining Cabela’s locations in Charleston and Wheeling. Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela’s in 2017.
“I can tell you that having a Bass Pro Shops store at the new WestRidge development by Morgantown will be a total game-changer for our state,” Justice said.
According to the press release, the Morgantown outlet will include a five-story boat display tower — a first of its kind for Bass Pro Shops.
“West Virginia, the Monongahela River area and nearby Southwestern Pennsylvania are some of the best regions in the country for fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation,” Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris said in the release. “We are thrilled to be part of this fantastic new development in Morgantown …”
Along with customized imagery and unique exterior and interior motifs, the store will feature a large aquarium stocked with native fish species. It will also host dozens event throughout the year aimed at bringing new, younger audiences to the outdoors.
Bass Pro Shops is expected to employ more than 100 employees at its Morgantown location.
Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom said it’s notable that the state’s first Bass Pro Shops retail location will be in Monongalia County.
“This project confirms that WestRidge is well positioned as a super-regional shopping destination, and will continue to create new jobs and investment in our county,” Bloom said.
WestRidge Commons is among the approximately 400 acres of WestRidge development annexed by petition into the city of Westover in March.
Along with Bass Pro Shops and Menards, other businesses coming to the WestRidge Commons include a Drury Hotels location, a combination Exon/Dunkin’ store and a First United Bank & Trust — according to a master plan provided by WestRidge.
The plan also indicates a Chick-fil-A is anticipated near the Wendy’s, on the University Town Centre side of the interchange.