Howard’s Demo to Cost $44K, Total Tally to Top $100,000

WHEELING – The demolition contract for the former Howard’s Diamond Center building in downtown Wheeling will bring the total cost of the structure to city taxpayers to more than $100,000.

City officials opened bids for the demolition Friday afternoon, with Raze International of Shadyside submitting the low bid, at $44,000. Two other firms submitted proposals, with Edgco Inc. of Lansing coming in at $59,400 and Savage Construction of Wheeling at $72,696.

If City Council approves the demolition contract, the building’s total cost to taxpayers will reach about $105,000, including the almost $59,000 the city paid to buy the property and $2,000 for asbestos abatement.

City Manager Robert Herron said the demolition cost is about what officials expected, and if all goes well the building will be torn down sometime in the fall. The building has been sitting in its current dilapidated condition since October 2012, when it was severely damaged during demolition of the building next door.

“I’m glad that we can bring that part of the project to a conclusion,” Herron said.

Following the demolition incident, the building became the subject of a federal lawsuit when Howard’s Diamond Center sued its insurance company for failing to pay a claim on the building. The parties settled for an undisclosed amount, at which time the city renewed its pursuit of the building, which it had failed to reach an agreement to buy several years prior.

City officials have not explained their decision to purchase the building and demolish it at taxpayer expense instead of requiring its previous owners to tear it down. The building’s most recent assessed value was $29,700, which would indicate an appraised value of about $49,600.

Herron said city Economic Development Specialist Kurt Zende and the Regional Economic Development Partnership are in the process of marketing the 1100 block site to potential developers. The amount of available land is well over an acre, he said.

According to Herron, the city would be open to retail, commercial or housing development on the site.

“We have had some interest in that property. … There is nothing imminent right now,” Herron said of the 1100 block.