Pursue New Uses For Old Buildings

City crews have been working at the vacant G.C. Murphy building in downtown Wheeling, attempting to make it more appealing to the public and potential developers. We think that is an excellent idea, one we hope can pay off by finding an entrepreneur or company interested in adapting and reusing the structure.

It is one of the city-owned buildings in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets that have been a thorn in the sides of the current Wheeling City Council and Mayor Andy McKenzie. City officials would like to attract new tenants or owners for the buildings.

An alternative to that is to demolish the structures, as McKenzie suggested should be considered if new uses are not found for them by the end of this year.

Taking some action – even demolition – may sound appealing, but that course has its own drawbacks. Removing the buildings would be quite costly to the city, at a time when officials are attempting to save money. It would divert resources from other projects, possibly including economic development or demolition of other buildings that are in far worse condition.

Razing the structures would leave the city owning a bare, unappealing plot of land – one on a slope. While the “green space” concept sounds good, it often results in merely more empty space and no economic gain.

To judge by comments last week from some city officials, the strategy for the 1100 block buildings seems to be to improve their appearance and redouble efforts to find new occupants for them. We agree with that idea which, at least for now, seems preferable to spending a substantial amount of city money to create what would amount to a hole in the ground.