Sunnyside is a 130-acre neighborhood adjacent to West Virginia University's downtown campus. It includes older homes, new businesses, new construction, and the iconic Seneca Center.
Sunnyside developed in the late 1800s when workers came
to the area to fill jobs at the rapidly growing glass company, the Seneca Glass
Company. The glass industry was growing at an unprecedented pace and European
immigrants from many different countries came to Morgantown to work. The
workers needed places to live, which spurred the making of the
neighborhood known as Seneca / Sunnyside.
The glass company went bankrupt in the 1980s but the Sunnyside neighborhood was
already experiencing changes in its residential population. By the 1980s, the
neighborhood was home to many college students from West Virginia University.
At the time, this neighborhood served as the University's largest student
housing area that was not owned and run by the University.
One of the neighborhood's boundaries, Campus Drive, was anchored by the football stadium. Since the field was right
next to the Sunnyside, it became the place to go and gather after a big West
Virginia University Mountaineers football win. Additionally, a variety of
businesses like Finnerty’s, Mutts, Pizza Inn, and Dr. Johns provided students
with places to socialize and gather.
In the 1990s the neighborhood became run down with unsafe housing
conditions. A need for a new solution was dire as the area had become notorious
for out of control parties, including frequent couch fires. The neighborhood
had become a student dominated space.
In 2002 Sunnyside Up (Campus Neighborhoods Revitalization Corporation) was incorporated. Sunnyside Up's mission
was to transform the 130-acre area using government tax funds (a TIF
district). Initially, there was little physical progress as plans were
discussed and formalized.
In 2013 WVU entered a public-private partnership in which parcels along
Third Street were purchased. Over 30 homes were razed and a large
multi-story complex was built. University Place features apartments and several
businesses such as Sheetz, Burgerz and Dogz, and Insomnia Cookies. New
construction and redevelopment continues in the area.In summer 2015, a company based out of Texas known as American Campus communities began construction on an apartment complex on Jones Avenue in Sunnyside, the previous location of the Sunnyside Commons. The complex has 3 buildings and can hold up to as many as 534 residents in four bedroom apartments. Construction was completed and ready for occupancy for the 2016-2017 school year.