Proposals Bring New Future to 1400 Block of Market Street in Downtown Wheeling | News, Sports, Jobs

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Photo by Eric Ayres – City of Wheeling officials heard proposals from developers last week for the redevelopment of buildings in the 1400 block of Market Street.

WHEELING – A cluster of old, deteriorating buildings in downtown Wheeling may soon be given hope of new life, as town leaders seek to select a new proposal for their redevelopment.

Action on city-owned buildings in the 1400 block of Market Street has been a long time coming. The city purchased the properties at 1437, 1433 and 1492 Market Street in 2015 before a sitting city council member was on board. In 2016, shortly after the current members of the Veterans Council took office, the group’s fourth building – 1429 Market Street – also became available for purchase, so they also bought it.

Most of the buildings in the cluster remained vacant, including the old Sportsman’s Club and G&G Bar and Grill. The lower level of the 1437 Market Street building is currently occupied by the Market Street News adult book and novelty store, while the other spaces have remained vacant. Parts of the buildings have deteriorated and sections of the rear areas of properties have recently been demolished.

Last week, members of the Wheeling City Council development committee met with developers who have submitted proposals to redevelop the 1,400-block cluster.

Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, chairman of the development committee, said the idea behind the city’s purchase of the buildings was to demolish them and open the main section in the heart of downtown For the development.

“The estimate for demolishing them was around $ 350,000,” Elliott said. “So the idea was to take this money and instead of demolishing them, to sell them to a developer to come and save them and get the four buildings as a whole to be redeveloped. “

A promising developer had put forward a proposal, but with the COVID-19 pandemic last year, that developer has since pulled out, the mayor said.

The city has since partnered with Wheeling Heritage to help come up with new options for the future of buildings.

“In conversations with Wheeling Heritage here over the past year or so, we’ve decided there isn’t much time to keep hoping for them,” Elliott noted.

“The buildings aren’t in great shape, but you can’t just wait for someone to come and save them, you have to market them,” said Betsy Sweeny, director of heritage programming at Wheeling Heritage. “So we partnered with the city to market Block 1400 and The Blue Church for a historic redevelopment. “

Sweeny said he worked with Steadfast City, a national economic development consultancy that connects cities, towns and nonprofits with skilled preservation developers. Steadfast City created a request for proposals and marketing campaign to advertise the buildings.

“This campaign lasted about two to three months and ultimately allowed us to find a handful of interested developers who submitted proposals for the buildings,” Sweeny said.

Two of the three proposals for the 1400 block on Market Street were accepted by the city and were presented to the development committee last week. Desmone Architects of Pittsburgh submitted one proposal, and TMR / BSG (Architects TM Rybak & Associates and construction management company Boiling Springs Group LLC) of Rutherford, NJ submitted the other.

“These are two very thorough proposals,” said Elliott. “The two are very different, I would say – one is more focused on mixed use, with retail and a restaurant, activating some of the space on the first floor with apartments on the upper floors. In the back area where Tin Pan Alley was located, there would be partly an outdoor terrace and partly a parking lot.

“The other proposal is much more focused on just filling every space, including new construction at the back with almost all residential space and some office space. It’s a different concept with maximizing every inch of it with the residential – I think it’s packed in 48 units.

The Desmone proposal envisions retail space on the lower level of 1437 Market Street, while the lower levels of the other three buildings would be combined into a large restaurant with outdoor seating and rear parking. A new stair tower would be built and used as a fire escape for the upper floors of the structures, which would be redeveloped into AirBnB units – which developers desperately need downtown – with a local history motif.

The TMR / BSG proposal transforms the current lower levels of buildings into office space or office / store space. All upper levels would be redeveloped into apartments, and new construction on all available spaces behind the facilities would see new apartment construction as well.

In addition to simply assuming ownership of properties, developers are looking for different incentives from the city. Desmone’s claim is the original $ 350,000 that the city had proposed for redevelopment as opposed to demolition. TMR / BSG’s funding gap is around $ 2 million, officials said.

City leaders are still taking both proposals into consideration. They plan to review the details of the overall proposals and vote at a future development committee meeting before sending a recommendation to city council for final action, which officials said they hope to complete by the end of this year. the year.

Officials said the developers were also exploring the potential to open a “revitalization corridor” in the area, simply because the more buildings involved, the more financial support became available for their project.

In fact, the investments made in these properties outweigh the overall estimated market value of the properties once the redevelopment is complete. The Desmone proposal states that the project’s development budget is approximately $ 6.65 million, while the estimated post-development value is $ 3.4 million. This “gap” in value is filled by the many financial incentives, tax credits, grants and loans available for these types of historic renovations.

The old buildings in the 1400 block of Market Street have period architectural features and receive significant financial assistance including historic federal and state tax credits, new market tax credits, loans USDA, grants, the City Frontage Improvement Program, and other funding increases.

Officials said that’s why launching even more buildings for the “revitalization corridor” could be a win-win for the developer and for the city.

“With the community development funding available, you can get a good allocation, but if you have a bigger project that includes a lot of buildings, you can get an even better deal if it includes more properties,” Sweeny said.

Wheeling Heritage has purchased The Blue Church – a historic pre-Civil War facility at 1206 Byron St. – and plans to receive and review requests for proposals from developers for this property through the same process as the 1,400 buildings.

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