Windsor Manor Bonds Sought

WHEELING – City Council is seeking input before deciding later this year whether to issue $4.5 million in bonds on behalf of a private developer hoping to purchase and renovate the Windsor Manor apartment complex downtown.

Although the matter is not yet on council’s agenda, there will be a public hearing concerning the plan at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the City-County Building just before council holds its regular meeting.

The bonds would be backed by the city in name only. Even if the prospective buyer – Cleveland-based Great Lakes Investment Partners – defaults, city taxpayers would not be on the hook because, by law, the debt would be the sole responsibility of the developer.

According to a project summary provided to city officials, the developer plans to purchase the 1143 Main St. building for $1.8 million and invest almost $3.1 million in extensive renovations to the 11-story downtown high-rise. Improvements would include exterior masonry, roof repair, window replacement, elevator upgrades, new common-area flooring and handicapped accessibility.

The building’s 109 apartment units – 91 single-bedroom units and 18 efficiencies – also would see upgrades, including new flooring, cabinets, appliances and more, according to the plan.

Backing from the city in the form of revenue bonds is intended to help Great Lakes Financial Partners obtain federal and state tax credits for the project and leverage about $2.9 million in private investment.

This would be the first time Wheeling has issued such bonds on behalf of a private developer. About 10 years ago, the city issued $10 million in bonds to help the Wheeling Park Commission, a public agency, expand Oglebay Park’s Wilson Lodge.

A memo from City Manager Robert Herron to Mayor Andy McKenzie and council members indicates a vote on actual issuance of the bonds would take place before the end of the year.

In other business, council will hear first reading of an amended zone change ordinance affecting a large stretch of Washington Avenue. The proposed change from single-family residential to high-density residential would allow Jonathan Bedway and his company, Double J Realty, to build a three-story, 36-unit apartment complex and rent it out to Wheeling Jesuit University graduate students.

Controversy has erupted in the neighborhood as a result, with residents presenting a petition to City Council on Sept. 3 signed by more than 120 people who oppose the project. Their concerns include parking, traffic, noise and the potential for Bedway to rent to non-university tenants if WJU is unable to fill all the units.

A vote on the zone change would take place Oct. 1.

Other items on council’s agenda Tuesday include hiring Compass Point of Blue Ash, Ohio, to update the city’s comprehensive plan with about $81,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding, and transferring property at 14 17th St. to its development arm, the Ohio Valley Area Development Corp., for the purpose of selling it to Roger Campbell – who has leased the property for a number of years – for $7,500.