Group Advises Selling Properties

The Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission is recommending city officials sell several properties in East Wheeling, including a number of vacant buildings and the lot where the former Jefferson Primary School once stood.

Commissioners made the recommendations after reviewing multiple proposals in a 35-minute closed door session during the group’s meeting Thursday. The final decision on any sale rests with City Council.

The commission chose Kristoffy Real Estate, owned by developers Ryan and Heather Slack of St. Clairsville, as its preferred buyers for the former East Wheeling police precinct building on 15th Street – believed to have been built in the 1830s – as well as a group of parcels including the former Keg und Kraut restaurant, three adjoining buildings and vacant lots. The Slacks are proposing to turn the old police station into rental housing and are looking for a mixed residential and commercial use of the old Keg und Kraut and surrounding buildings, according to city Assistant Director of Economic and Community Development Tom Connelly.

The commission also recommended council sell the former Imperial Pools lot on McColloch Street to Dr. Marjorie Moolten, who wants to build a parking lot for an apartment building she owns nearby.

Each recommendation was unanimous. It’s not yet clear what the sale price of the properties will be, but city officials have indicated they’d be willing to sell the parcels included in the request for proposals for as little as $1 in order to get them back into private ownership and onto the tax rolls.

The city received no interest in the old Gene Long Community Center on Wheeling Island or the former Tom’s Pizza building on Main Street downtown. There was one proposal for a vacant lot at 134 14th St. and two each for adjacent vacant lots at 115 and 115 1/2 15th St., but commissioners felt plans submitted weren’t complete enough to warrant a recommendation.

Connelly said one person had inquired about the Gene Long building but didn’t end up submitting a proposal. And while the Tom’s Pizza building features a unique floor plan, narrowing as it approaches the rear, he had hoped the potential to obtain downtown property for next to nothing would have generated more interest.

“Ideally it would have been nice to be able to issue recommendations on all the properties,” Connelly said.

The Gene Long building, which dates back to 1868, has been deteriorating of late, with the sidewalk outside the structure closed since February due to bricks falling from the facade. No decision has been made on whether to raze the building, but Connelly said the city has no plans for it and the lack of private interest likely doesn’t bode well for its future.

Final sale of the properties likely won’t be on council’s agenda until at least August, according to Connelly. If the properties are transferred, the successful buyer will have six months to secure the property, one year to submit a detailed plan for renovation and to complete that plan within no more than five years.