In this Best of Morgantown issue, we recognize some of the growth and change that have made 21st century Morgantown more convenient, more healthful, and more fun.


More people, a growing business community, new ideas—Morgantown gets bigger and better all the time. It looks better: In the past two decades, it’s seen a streetscape overhaul downtown, for example, and improvements in the Wharf District and along the riverfront. Sunnyside has benefitted from a clean sweep of its major thoroughfare, with upgrades to its side streets ongoing. The Mon River is cleaner.

And with all of that, our town operates better. We enjoy a revived historical theater, miles and miles of rail-trails, and a closer relationship with the river. A better balance of owner-occupiers to renters is reinvigorating neighborhoods. The national attention that follows population growth has brought goods and services we never had before, and major sectors of our economy—commercial, health care, and others—have reinvented themselves in exciting new ways.


Commercial Development

The first shopping center of its kind in town when it opened in 2005, University Town Centre brought us national chains like Olive Garden and T.J. Maxx. UTC has expanded year by year with shops and restaurants, a movie theater, car dealerships, health care, hotels, office space, and the minor league Monongalia County Ballpark.

Opened in 2009, Suncrest Towne Centre brought a more intimate, walkable scale to the “town center” theme. Anchored by a high-end Kroger, STC has some chain restaurants, a hotel, and an urgent care facility and at the same time hosts gift shops, clothing boutiques, and other local, independent shops.

The opening of The Gateway in 2013 may signal the direction of future development. It started with the Triple S Harley-Davidson, and restaurants, hotels, and retail soon followed. Just off Exit 155, it will be able to capitalize on improvements at Mylan Park that will draw users from a growing regional base.

In development now west of I-79 at Exit 153, WestRidge is a mixed-use development in five distinct neighborhoods. WestRidge Crossing and Commons will bring retail and medical facilities; WestRidge Corporate Centre, office space; and WestRidge Commerce Centre and Business Park, office space, and light industrial uses, and distribution.


West Virginia University

Since 2000, WVU has grown its Morgantown student population from 22,000 to 27,000. International enrollment has gone up, too—from 1,200 students from about 90 countries to 2,000 students from well over 100 countries. That diversity enriches both student and resident life in Morgantown.

 

The university’s 2015 Carnegie R1 designation was renewed in 2018, ranking it among the top 130 research universities in the nation. It’s a prestigious classification that elevates the university’s profile, draws the best students and faculty, and improves prospects for major research funding.

The university closed its 2012–2017 State of Minds capital campaign at over $1.2 billion, vastly exceeding the 1998–2003 Building Greatness campaign’s $340 million. The donations allow for new scholarships, chairs, programs, research, and more.

 

Development WVU has undertaken over the past 20 years—renovating and buildng new classroom, arts, recreation, research, and housing facilities campus-wide—has helped to change the face of Morgantown.


Health Care

Development WVU has undertaken over the past 20 years—renovating and buildng new classroom, arts, recreation, research, and housing facilities campus-wide—has helped to change the face of Morgantown.


Mylan Park

Mylan Park began in the 1990s as a dream of baseball and softball fields and quickly came to host everything from soccer and horseshoes to festivals and expos. An Aquatic and Track Center is in development now.

Opened in the fall of 2018, the $7 million track facility features a Mondo track surface that enhances performance and decreases the chance of injury.

Planned for fall 2019, the $35 million aquatic center will have three pools. The 50-meter competition pool will host Big 12 events. A diving pool will allow for diving from as high as 10 meters. And a community swimming pool will be open to the public. The facility will also have a fitness center and an outdoor splash pad.

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