Downtown Association to Council: Address 1100 Block

As city and state leaders plan to revitalize East Wheeling, those working downtown want to make sure elected officials do not neglect the 1100 block of Main and Market streets.

“That portion of town is deteriorating and is not doing anyone any good. … You cannot really do anything with those buildings because of how much it would cost to get them up to code,” Jeff McCamic of the Wheeling Jamboree told members of the Wheeling Downtown Business Association during the Tuesday meeting at the McLure Hotel.

In September 2008, council spent $715,000 worth of Tax Increment Financing to purchase the G.C. Murphy, River City Dance Works and Rite Aid buildings. Thus far, city officials have not been able to attract any developers to this downtown district.

Under the guidance of former Mayor Nick Sparachane, the council serving from 2004-08 wanted to purchase and demolish each of the 1100 block buildings. Upon Mayor Andy McKenzie’s election in May 2008, however, members placed the demolition plans on hold and chose not to purchase the Vocelli Pizza, Panda and Howard’s Diamond Center buildings.

James Grace, owner of the Tiki Bar and Grill, said he recently toured the Murphy building with Wheeling Development Specialist Kurt Zende and city firefighters to see if anything could be done with the aging edifice. Zende previously said it would cost about $4 million to place the Murphy in compliance with city building and fire codes.

“The city paid too much for these buildings – they are junk,” Grace said of the 1100 block buildings, adding that he believes council should now vote to demolish these structures.

Grace also noted that he asked council members during a recent meeting to explain their vision for downtown, but members did not provide an answer.

“We need to invite the mayor (McKenzie) and city manager (Robert Herron) to our next meeting so they can tell us what their plans are,” Grace added.

McCamic noted he would also like to speak with McKenzie and Herron to “see what the administration has planned” for the 1100 block.

Though McKenzie declined to get into specifics when contacted about these comments following the meeting, he indicated a willingness to talk with the group’s members.

“We are always willing to meet with our business community to address their concerns,” McKenzie said.

Other attendees Tuesday included Frank O’Brien, executive director of the Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau; Dennis Magruder, executive director of the Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority; Bruce Wheeler, interim executive director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra; Olivia Litman of the CVB; Carl Nix of Harvey Goodman Realtor; and Paula Calvert, Centre Market manager, among others.

Wheeling Jamboree board member Cindy Hall serves as the group’s organizer. The association plans to meet at 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month at the McLure.

Downtown Association To Council: Address 1100 Block

As city and state leaders plan to revitalize East Wheeling, those working downtown want to make sure elected officials do not neglect the 1100 block of Main and Market streets.

“That portion of town is deteriorating and is not doing anyone any good. … You cannot really do anything with those buildings because of how much it would cost to get them up to code,” Jeff McCamic of the Wheeling Jamboree told members of the Wheeling Downtown Business Association during the Tuesday meeting at the McLure Hotel.

In September 2008, council spent $715,000 worth of Tax Increment Financing to purchase the G.C. Murphy, River City Dance Works and Rite Aid buildings. Thus far, city officials have not been able to attract any developers to this downtown district.

Under the guidance of former Mayor Nick Sparachane, the council serving from 2004-08 wanted to purchase and demolish each of the 1100 block buildings.

Upon Mayor Andy McKenzie’s election in May 2008, however, members placed the demolition plans on hold and chose not to purchase the Vocelli Pizza, Panda and Howard’s Diamond Center buildings.

James Grace, owner of the Tiki Bar and Grill, said he recently toured the Murphy building with Wheeling Development Specialist Kurt Zende and city firefighters to see if anything could be done with the aging edifice. Zende previously said it would cost about $4 million to place the Murphy in compliance with city building and fire codes.

“The city paid too much for these buildings – they are junk,” Grace said of the 1100 block buildings, adding that he believes council should now vote to demolish these structures.

Grace also noted that he asked council members during a recent meeting to explain their vision for downtown, but members did not provide an answer.

“We need to invite the mayor (McKenzie) and city manager (Robert Herron) to our next meeting so they can tell us what their plans are,” Grace added.

McCamic noted he would also like to speak with McKenzie and Herron to “see what the administration has planned” for the 1100 block.

Though McKenzie declined to get into specifics when contacted about these comments following the meeting, he indicated a willingness to talk with the group’s members.

“We are always willing to meet with our business community to address their concerns,” McKenzie said.

Other attendees Tuesday included Frank O’Brien, executive director of the Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau; Dennis Magruder, executive director of the Greater Wheeling Sports and Entertainment Authority; Bruce Wheeler, executive director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra; Olivia Litman of the CVB; Carl Nix of Harvey Goodman Realtor; and Paula Calvert, Centre Market manager, among others.

Wheeling Jamboree board member Cindy Hall serves as the group’s organizer. The association plans to meet at 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month at the McLure.