Belmont Commissioners Address Progress With Land Bank

Belmont County commissioners addressed ongoing progress with the county’s newly formed land bank during this week’s meeting.

Resident Richard Hord asked about the land bank, which was recently approved for funding. He inquired about the 100 potential structures to be torn down in Martins Ferry, Bridgeport and Bellaire.

Commissioner Ginny Favede said it was necessary to submit a target population, in this case drawn from homes that had gone through treasurer’s and auditor’s sales. During the next couple of months, the board will determine what will be demolished.

Commissioner Mark Thomas commended Favede for spearheading the initiative, but added this will not be a riverfront project, but a countywide project.

He said the government cannot take private property, only properties that have come to them under the law. The grant funds are for use on residential property rather than commercial structures, but the profits may be used for the demolition of commercial properties.

Hord also inquired about developments around the mall. Commissioners said they have had conversations with the Cafaro Co., who said new construction projects should begin soon. Construction has already begun on the Candlewood Suites and a new tenant has been found for the CVS Pharmacy building. A Chipotle should be open on or before Nov. 1. The mall property now has a three percent vacancy rate. New business and renovations have been reported.

They added that 10 new restaurants are expected in the next five years.

They also noted the Cafaro Co.’s commitment to the Interstate 70 Mall Road project. Commissioner Mark Thomas said their section of road is nearly complete.

“They are a major private player,” Coffland said, noting the better chances this gives to the TRAC application Sept. 10.