By ALEC BERRY
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — A private company with interest in two Main Street buildings will commission a detailed assessment to study possible redevelopment of the properties.
Wheeling Vice Mayor Chad Thalman said the unnamed, Ohio-based developer viewed the city-owned buildings at 1107 and 1109 Main St. a few months ago, and he said it and an architectural firm will visit them again next week. Mayor Glenn Elliott said the company, if it moves forward, would intend to time the completion of its project in accordance with construction of The Health Plan’s new headquarters directly across the street, which is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
Elliott said it’s possible this developer will submit a proposal to Wheeling City Council before the end of January. Thalman said it’s likely both buildings would host first-floor retail or restaurant tenants and second-floor residential units.
“I think as long as they do not find any structural issues, I think they’ll go forward,”Elliott said.
The city purchased the buildings in March as it acquired two other properties at The Health Plan’s now-active construction site. The total cost, more than $200,000, came from revenue from a $9.67-million tax increment financing bond. Originally, city council under former Mayor Andy McKenzie intended to demolish 1107 Main St., but the new city council chose to move in a different direction.
Volunteers from the Wheeling Young Preservationists group spent several hours Saturday removing junk and debris from both properties.
Wheeling Heritage will finance next week’s review at a cost of $5,000. It has paid for similar pre-development studies in association with several West Virginia Northern Community College properties and city-owned buildings along the 1400 block of Market Street. A basic design rendering for 1107 and 1109 Main St.’s facades was completed over the summer by an architect affiliated with Main Street America.
The full assessment will include detailed architectural drawings.
Wheeling Heritage Executive Director Jake Dougherty said this particular developer expressed interest in the buildings without the city’s encouragement. He said in the event it opts out of a potential project, however, Wheeling Heritage will retain ownership of the study for future use.
Elliott believes it would make sense to sell the buildings to the developer for a nominal fee and include terms for a development deadline. He said a sale would basically save the city money, as it originally budgeted thousands of dollars from the March 2016 TIF bond to demolish 1107 Main St.
Elliott is concerned that probable high costs related to fire code improvements may deter the prospective developer, but he said this company has experience with historic redevelopment and understands what’s required.
He said council decided to avoid tearing down 1107 Main St. because they and others believe it’s structurally intact.
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