Time Is Up for Site Of Former Imperial Pools

WHEELING – Despite talk of trying to save the building, City Manager Robert Herron said demolition of the former Imperial Pools building on McColloch Street will move forward.

Asbestos abatement of the structure was expected to begin “any time now,” Herron said this week. Although he did not know when the actual demolition would begin, Herron said any discussion of preserving the dilapidated building is moot at this point.

After years of litigation surrounding building code violations, the building’s last owner – Dog Bone Properties LLC – relinquished the deed to the 1401 McColloch St. property to the city. According to Herron, the city agreed to accept ownership of the building because the presence of a demolition contractor nearby working to clear the way for the future J.B. Chambers Recreational Park presented an opportunity to get the building razed at a lower cost.

Edgco Inc. of Lansing agreed to raze the Imperial Pools building in a $48,000 change order to the original East Wheeling demolition contract. Herron said estimates to tear the structure down as a stand-alone project were nearly $20,000 higher.

While he acknowledged accepting the deed absolved Dog Bone Properties of any financial responsibility, Herron said the opportunity to get the building demolished at a discount seemed to make it the best course of action.

The city would have had to spend taxpayer money to demolish the building anyway, and then place a lien against the property in order to recoup that expense – a process Herron believes could have taken several years, if not longer based on the city’s recent difficulty to bring the owner into court to answer for multiple building code violations.

According to information on the West Virginia Secretary of State’s website, Dog Bone Properties formed in October of 2009 and lists two officers: Valerie Wilson of Pennsboro, W.Va., and Betty Diprose of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, who was added as an officer in January.

The Victorian structure, which served as the Jefferson School before becoming home to the former Imperial Pools business, has stood since the late 19th century.

After Herron announced the city’s intention to raze the building, it became one of several city-owned structures identified by Mayor Andy McKenzie’s new committee on preservation as one of those that could be sold at low cost to people who agree to renovate the property in a timely manner consistent with its history.

But that plan, not yet approved by City Council, is still in the early stages of development, and timing was the reason cited for taking ownership of the building in the first place.

Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. Executive Director Jeremy Morris, who leads the mayor’s committee and also is a member of the Historic Landmarks Commission, could not be reached for comment Friday.