Demolition Project Far From Finished

WHEELING – Tuesday was the scheduled deadline for demolition of several city-owned buildings in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets in downtown Wheeling, but almost half the condemned portion of the block still stands.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Robert Herron said residents should prepare for Main Street to be closed between 11th and 12th streets for part of Sunday morning as the city’s contractor, Dore and Associates of Michigan, may take down the facade of Dr. Manny Velez’s former dental office and the Main Street-facing wall of the former G.C. Murphy building that day.

“I’ve been told that the game plan is this Sunday morning they will take down the fronts of the buildings. … I’m not holding my breath,” he said.

Following the meeting, Herron said he’s not sure why the demolition work is behind schedule, and city officials plan to meet with the contractor sometime this week to determine how much longer they need to finish the job. There’s been no discussion to this point of financial penalties against the company for exceeding the length of the contract, Herron noted.

The city has spent about $1.9 million since 2008 on the 1100 block project. That sum includes about $820,000 to acquire the former G.C. Murphy, Rite Aid, River City Dance Works, Graham and Velez buildings; $693,600 for the demolition; and about $226,000 for asbestos abatement. Council also agreed to pay Velez up to $164,000 to compensate the dentist for moving his practice to Elm Grove.

City officials hope to market the property for redevelopment. Herron has said once the foundations of the demolished buildings are filled in the space could be used for parking on a temporary basis if the need arises, but stressed the ultimate goal of the demolition was to get rid of dilapidated structures and create open space where a developer can build the type of modern structure that businesses are looking for today.

Meanwhile, council approved a $93,883 contract with John Russell Construction of Steubenville for renovation of the new council chambers in the former sheriff’s tax office on the ground floor of the City-County Building. That was the low bid among four proposals received by the city, in terms of cost as well as length of time needed to complete the project, Herron said.

Council approved holding both required readings of the measure to give the contractor time to order all necessary materials and finish within the 45-day contract period. After that, it will take a couple additional weeks for painting and carpeting work before the room is ready to host meetings.

Herron said the renovated space will include several technology upgrades from those available in the previous council chambers on the second floor, including a new electronic voting system, digital recording capability, better sound amplification and a screen on which spectators can follow along with council’s agenda. Those with visual aids such as site plans to present at meetings also will be able to access Microsoft Power Point from the chamber’s speaking podium.

The new location right around the corner from the building’s lobby also will allow the Ohio County Commission, which oversees the building, to close off the upper floors during evening hours, Herron has said.