New Life On The Corner

WHEELING – Following a 20-minute, closed-door discussion, City Council’s Development Committee on Tuesday approved Kristoffy Real Estate’s plan to revitalize a vacant and dilapidated street corner in East Wheeling.

City officials also plan to donate a vacant lot to the non-profit Vandalia Heritage Foundation, which recently built a $2.6 million residential development in East Wheeling – but which also has been looking to unload other properties it doesn’t have the financial resources to rehabilitate.

Following the closed-door session, the three-member panel – Mayor Andy McKenzie, Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey and Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge – voted unanimously to transfer several unused properties it owns, all in East Wheeling, pending final approval by City Council.

Kristoffy Real Estate would acquire the former Keg und Kraut restaurant at 16th and Wood streets and three adjacent buildings, as well as the former East Wheeling police precinct building on 15th Street. Officials did not disclose the proposed purchase prices.

Kristoffy Real Estate co-owner Heather Slack said she has a tenant that wants to open a new restaurant in the former German pub and eatery. They would raze two buildings directly to the west to create patio seating for the new restaurant, and rehabilitate the building around the corner at 1517 Wood St. into three single-bedroom residential units.

“We plan on selling them as affordable condos. … We’d like to bring up home ownership in that area,” Slack said.

However, the plan will be up in the air until December, when Kristoffy Real Estate will find out whether they’ve receive a grant from the Federal Housing Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, without which Slack said the project would be cost-prohibitive.

Based on grant requirements, they would sell the residential units to those making 60-80 percent of area median income – or $31,200 to $41,600, based on a medium income of $52,000 per year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Slack said if the company’s grant application is denied, the properties would revert back to the city.

Committee members also voted unanimously to donate a vacant lot at 134 14th St. to Vandalia Heritage, which is seeking to build in-fill housing there. That company recently built two new apartment buildings on 15th Street and renovated existing buildings on that street and Wood Street, and is in the process of renting those units.

Earlier this summer, the foundation placed several Wheeling properties up for sale, citing insufficient resources to rehabilitate them. No bids were made on those properties during a public auction in June.

Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey said city officials are aware of Vandalia’s recent struggles, noting the property would revert back to the city if the project isn’t completed “in a timely manner.”

“That’s what (it’s) there for,” Fahey said of the reversion clause, adding he believes Vandalia has made “good progress” on its projects in East Wheeling.

The committee also recommended council transfer property at 14 17th St. to its development arm, the Ohio Valley Area Development Corp., to be sold to Roger Campbell for $7,500.

Campbell has leased the lot for several years and recently built a storage structure on it, according to Fahey.