MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — Over the past year, there has been much controversy surrounding a few businesses looking to make “The Deck” development their home in Morgantown.
One of those businesses was Starbucks, which celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday, although it’s been open since January 20.
“This project has certainly been a long journey,” Hardy World CEO Taylor Hardy said. Between construction, financials, controversy and more, Hardy World faced many challenges in bringing the project to fruition.
Nearly a year ago, it was announced that Big Daddy Guns was coming to the development. With public safety on the forefront of many activists minds, community members protested, signed a petition and spoke to elected officials to voice their opposition to the store, which was near schools and churches.
Starbucks was originally slated to become the anchor tenant of the development but decided in July to no longer open a location there and cited “the safety concerns [the public has] for this location’s proximity to another business planned for University Ave.”
Fast forward to last September, Hardy World, which manages the property, and Big Daddy Guns decided to terminate their lease agreement.
“We just did what we felt was best, best for the community and otherwise, business is business right? There was nothing from an emotional standpoint, really it was a business decision,” Hardy said.
Out went Big Daddy Guns. Coming back in shortly after was Starbucks.
“It’s wonderful to be here, we’re excited,” Starbucks Store Manager Breanne McLaughlin said.
“I think sometimes along the way, things can be challenging to make everybody happy with what you are doing, but I think today is truly a recognition and an example of what the community wants, what they need and what they are happy to see and I’m glad we could execute that and bring that here,” Hardy said.
Hardy added that a few other tenants are close to signing a lease at “The Deck”, but that they can’t announce any until the deals are finalized.
“We’re just really excited to be here in the Morgantown community and just watch out for more grand openings and what we are able to bring next to your community,” Hardy said.
Steps are already being taken by local government to monitor if another gun store, like Big Daddy Guns, were to come to downtown Morgantown. Two weeks ago, the Morgantown Planning Commission voted in favor of an amendment that would change zoning laws to regulate firearm sales. The Morgantown City Council will discuss it at a future meeting.