Council Approves Demolition

WHEELING – Nearly two years after the building was severely damaged during the city’s 1100 block demolition project, City Council on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to tear down the former Howard’s Diamond Center.

Council voted unanimously to award the $44,000 demolition contract to Raze International of Shadyside during its Tuesday meeting. Edgco Inc. of Lansing and Savage Construction of Wheeling also submitted bids, at $59,400 and $72,696, respectively.

The building has been sitting in its current state – much of its roof gone and structural damage throughout – since October 2012, when a wall collapsed onto the former jewelry store during demolition of the building next door. The city bought the building for almost $59,000 earlier this year, after former owners Seth and Howard Posin settled a lawsuit with their insurance company regarding a claim on the building.

City Manager Robert Herron also informed council a water line that serves the Mozart area will need to be relocated to accommodate American Electric Power’s plans to move its South Wheeling substation. To accommodate the project schedule and deal with a leak in the line, he asked council for permission to begin as soon as possible on an emergency basis.

The work will cost about $50,000, Herron said, but AEP has agreed to reimburse the city in full.

Also during Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilman Don Atkinson sounded off about the city’s appearance. He said he’s been bothered recently by the appearance of several buildings around town, including the old Rogers Hotel downtown, the former Wheeling Closure plant on 19th Street and a pair of properties in the Fulton and Elm Grove areas.

“Our city’s really starting to look bad,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson also complained about the condition of state-maintained entrance and exit ramps within the city that serve highways like Interstate 70 and W.Va. 2. He said they’re often littered with trash and overgrown with weeds.

He also asked that something be done about people loitering outside bars throughout the day downtown, particularly in the 1400 block of Market Street. He said he’s spoken with people who attend nearby West Virginia Northern Community College who are afraid to walk through the area.

At Mayor Andy McKenzie’s suggestion, council voted unanimously to have City Manager Robert Herron send a letter to the West Virginia Division of Highways requesting they step up maintenance of the ramp areas.

Herron said the owner of the former Wheeling Closure building has plans to demolish it, but acknowledged those plans have been pending for some time. He said the Rogers Hotel is under a building permit and work is being done there.