Vote to Buy Building Set

WHEELING – It’s not the crown jewel of downtown Wheeling, but the severely damaged Howard’s Diamond Center building on Market Street may soon be city property.

City Council will vote on an agreement to purchase the former jewelry store at 1125 Market St. during its meeting at noon Tuesday at the City-County Building. The city plans to tear down the building after acquiring it, adding to the open space in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets officials plan to market for future development, City Manager Robert Herron has said.

Herron has not explained why the city isn’t requiring the owners to raze the building at their own expense, though he declared months ago the building, which is missing much of its roof, would have to come down regardless of who owns it.

The negotiated price of $58,815, to be paid with tax increment financing revenue, is almost twice the property’s most recent assessed value, $29,700. It was appraised at $68,200 in 2008 – two years before the business moved to The Highlands retail development – and Herron said the figure is close to what the city was prepared to offer prior to the October 2012 accident that damaged the building.

During the 1100 block demolition project, workers with Dore and Associates, a Bay City, Mich., firm, knocked a wall on the adjoining former Feet First building onto and through the roof of the former jewelry store. In February, the building’s owners, the Posin family, settled a lawsuit against their insurance company for an undisclosed amount.

Other items on council’s agenda Tuesday include approval of the city’s Community Development Block Grant budget. The city will receive $1.13 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The proposed spending plans calls for $546,000 to go toward street paving and sidewalk repair throughout the city; $227,000 for administrative costs; $204,000 toward a 2005 loan the city took out to bring Lowe’s to the city; $65,000 for directed police patrols in East Wheeling and on Wheeling Island, $33,000 for the Nelson Jordan Center recreation facility, $15,000 to pay for summer employees at the East Wheeling swimming pool; $10,000 for the city Human Rights Commission; $18,000 for Wheeling Health Right to provide medication for low-income clients; $4,500 each for the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling, the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless and Family Service-Upper Ohio Valley’s meal delivery and senior transportation programs; and $2,500 for supplies at the Seeing Hand Association’s workshop for the visually impaired.

Council also will vote on whether to spend $38,450 for BBR Drilling of Belmont to perform slip repair work on Mount Wood Road.