Bids Open for Pair Of Downtown Projects

WHEELING?- Giving downtown Wheeling’s Market Plaza a much-needed makeover will cost a little more than originally expected, city officials learned Thursday.

The city opened bids Thursday for the plaza renovation and another long-awaited downtown project, the Heritage Port Gateway Park.

The city received three bids for the plaza project, with James White Construction of Weirton the low bidder at $634,560. Jarvis, Downing & Emch of Wheeling came in at $674,342 and Cattrell Co. at $690,000.

Plans call for sidewalk repair, new brick work, additional landscaping and moving back the front wall of the plaza to create room for additional metered parking spaces. Several years ago, city officials believed the project would cost about $500,000, but City Manager Robert Herron said Thursday’s bids were still slightly higher.

However, he said the city has some flexibility. The apparent low bid for the gateway park came in under budget, and the city has spent only a little more than half the $3.14 million proceeds from a 2011 tax increment financing bond sale, with almost $1.5 million remaining.

He said the bids submitted included a number of alternative deductions which could hold down the cost, but the city will make every effort to complete as many elements of the project as possible.

“This is an important project. There’s a lot of activity at the Stone Center, and we want to make sure we do this right,” Herron said.

Meanwhile, Savage Construction of Wheeling is the low bidder for the Heritage Port Gateway Park at $51,469. James White was the only other firm to submit a bid, at $92,610.

The park project, planned for the vacant lot at 11th and Main streets where Waterbed Warehouse once stood, was originally projected to cost almost $90,000. Plans were adjusted to hold costs down, however.

Original drawings show a crushed stone path winding between two grass covered mounds that will allow pedestrians to negotiate the downward slope from Main Street to the waterfront area. Large metal sculptures by local artist Jeff Forster, including a life-sized elephant, will add character to the space.