1400 Block Rehab takes big step forward in Wheeling | News, Sports, Jobs
picture by: Eric Ayres/File
WHEELING – Plans to redevelop historic buildings in the 1400 block of Market Street in downtown Wheeling not only came to the fore Tuesday night, but were pushed to the point where things should really be gearing up in the coming months.
Wheeling City Council members approved an ordinance authorizing City Manager Robert Herron to spend a total of $99,312 on various bills from the companies the city has partnered with on the long-awaited project. Pittsburgh developer Desmone Architects and its project manager, Tipping Point Management Company, have been coordinating aspects of the projects for the past several months. Work on the historic tax credit application, architectural and engineering work, pre-design, and other expenses are paid for through the city’s 2022 Tax Increment Funding (TIF) bond .
City officials have been pushing this project over the past few months, and work has been going on behind the scenes to stabilize some of the structural issues in parts of the row of aging buildings. Bricks on the upper level of the southernmost building fell, forcing the city to close part of the driveway.
Jim Ambrose, chairman of Tipping Point, told council members on Tuesday night that the company was working to resolve some of those issues ahead of full-scale building transformations.
“We actually just received a very favorable award this weekend for emergency stabilization and block remediation,” Ambrose said. “As you know, the building took on a lot of water over the summer, and we need to make sure we secure them so that as the colder months come and they get frozen, they are better protected and don’t win. I won’t take any more damage.
Ambrose said officials from Desmone and Tipping Point were in Wheeling all day Tuesday with some of their lending partners, touring buildings and checking out work being done in the city to better understand the local market.
“They’re really excited,” Ambrose said, applauding city leaders for their efforts to revitalize downtown and other parts of Wheeling. “Your support and collaboration so far has been an incredible asset to the project, and I really think it has a real chance to show not only other historic revitalization projects like this what it could look like a public-private partnership for the city of Wheeling, but also for the rest of the state.
“I really think it’s a great business model for other communities to be able to rehabilitate these critically important historic structures.”
The City of Wheeling acquired the row of deteriorating historic buildings in the 1400 block of Market Street several years ago in hopes of finding a private investor to help breathe new life into them.
“It took us a lot of twists and turns to get here,” Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott said, noting that members of a former city council thought it was important for the city to save this row of historic buildings from ruin. downtown, by appropriating and working for conservation. a new future for them.
A number of other potential developers have come forward in the past only to back out of projects that never materialized. The mayor said Desmone’s ambitious proposal – estimated at around $7 million – holds great promise.
“It’s a tough historic preservation project, but the hope is that we can save these four buildings,” the mayor said. “If we save these four buildings…we’re really keeping a block that for many years underperformed, and adding some life and vibrancy to it.”
Ambrose touted the location, noting that if they zoom out of the site plan, the buildings are at the center of an urban footprint close to West Virginia Community College, Center Market, WesBanco Arena and other downtown businesses and attractions, East Wheeling and Center Wheeling.
“It really takes you to this place, sort of in the heart of the city,” Ambrose said. “There are four buildings, and they are all historic. The intent at the first level, we want to introduce some sort of 6pm activation whenever it comes to restaurants and nightlife type stores.
Additions have been made to parts of the buildings over the years. Ambrose said they intended to remove some of those non-historic additions to the rear to create a nice outdoor seating experience along the driveway.
“On the upper floors, the intention is to preserve whatever historic integrity we can save to put in some of the coolest, most rugged apartments you’ll ever see,” Ambrose said, noting that they plan to use spaces like AirBnB for some. vacant dwellings.
The entities have worked with Wheeling Heritage on the project, and Ambrose said they have continued to draw on Wheeling Heritage’s expertise to come up with ideas to help preserve the history of the once occupied block which has seen many many companies have come and gone over the years – some legitimate and some not so much.
“Everyone knows the crowd was there at some point,” Ambrose said. “We have some cool racketeering props and stuff that happened there. We want to create themes in many different spaces so that they continue to celebrate Wheeling’s heritage and history, and almost create an experience in themselves for locals and for those who visit.
The city once estimated the cost of reducing and demolishing the buildings at $350,000. Under the city’s original memorandum of understanding with Desmone, the city would invest that amount of money in the redevelopment project instead of spending it on demolition.
“For more than six years, City Council has worked to preserve these historic structures,” Vice Mayor Chad Thalman said. “I am happy to see this project take a step forward and a potential major investment by a private developer.”