BY ALISE CHAFFINS
Brothers Richard and David Biafora always manage to keep themselves busy.
In 2005, they began construction on Suncrest Towne Centre, an open air shopping center in Morgantown.
Seeing the success with that development, they turned their eyes to the near vacant Middletown Mall in Fairmont, transforming it into what is now the Middletown Commons.
Originally built in the 1970s, Middletown Mall, like many of its contemporaries, began to experience a decline in the early 2000s. People stopped shopping at malls and large anchor stores were losing business to big box stores like Walmart and Target.
But the Biaforas saw potential in the property, and purchased it in 2019, hoping to renovate it and develop something that could benefit the community again.
“It’s truly been a 100% transformation,” David Biafora said of the work they have done on the new Middletown Commons. “From a typical shopping mall in the early 70s when it was built to an outdoor center. From the ground up, all new mechanicals, all new exterior, new roof, all new parking lot, new lighting, new intersection. So it really has been a true redevelopment.”
One of the new businesses that is a part of Middletown Commons is the Mon Health Marion Neighborhood Hospital, celebrating its one-year anniversary at the spot this month.
As people prepare for the holidays, Middletown Commons has plenty to offer. Biafora listed a few stores that could be a draw.
“We have a nice grocery anchor in Aldi. Now we have Michael’s Crafts. We have a pet store, restaurants, hair salons, nail salons.”
Middletown Commons is a blend of local ma-and-pa stores as well as many national chains.
Because it is an open air shopping center, the White Hall Christmas parade made its way through the Commons earlier this month, allowing it to be an even bigger part of the community.
In addition to the stores that are already a part of the redesign, several more businesses will be opening in the coming year. Biafora confirmed that Aspen Dental, Starbucks and Chipotle will all be coming to the Commons soon, giving more options to people of Fairmont and the surrounding area.
Biafora said they are proud of the work they have done on Middletown Commons.
“It’s all been something that Fairmont needed and deserves. It’s been really the most gratifying project we’ve ever done and Marion County has really welcomed it.”