WHEELING - The G.C. Murphy building in downtown Wheeling is still vacant, but those walking or driving by the structure can expect to find a new sight, thanks in part to Oglebay Institute.
Wheeling officials worked Wednesday to install a vinyl tarp on the Market Street side of the city-owned building. Public Works Director Russell Jebbia and others spent virtually all day attaching brackets to set the tarp in place.
"It really is pretty cool," Jebbia said of the covering that simulates the look of a red brick exterior with windows.
Photo by Scott McCloskey
A decorative tarp hangs on the Market Street side of the downtown G.C. Murphy building Wednesday as part of the city’s efforts to beautify the Wheeling structure.
Also, as part of the institute's 80th Anniversary celebration, murals developed by West Liberty University, Laughlin Chapel, Artworks Around Town and other local artists will be revealed at 3 p.m. today. The murals are expected to cover the windows on both the Main and Market street sides of the structure.
Councilman Don Atkinson, a longtime advocate for improving the Market Street side of the structure, is pleased with the new facade, donated by Lamar Outdoor Advertising.
"This is a big improvement. ... That side of the building has been an eyesore for so long," he said.
"It used to irritate me to sit at that light and see that," Atkinson said of the traffic signal at the intersection of Market and 11th streets.
Mayor Andy McKenzie declared during his recent "State of the City" speech that the G.C. Murphy and other city-owned structures in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets would be demolished if no one develops the buildings by Dec. 31. City Council issued about $750,000 in tax increment financing bonds to purchase these structures in September 2008. In addition to the G.C. Murphy building, the city owns the former Rite Aid building and the current River City Dance Works building.
Atkinson agrees with McKenzie that "something has to happen" with the block.
"We have given it time. There has been no big interest in them," Atkinson said. "We have to do something."
Councilman James Tiu believes it may be easier to bring development to the G.C. Murphy structure by demolishing the former Rite Aid building.
"This would enhance the possibility of attracting development to the G.C. Murphy building," he said. "If we install a historically correct alleyway with parking spaces, this will help us market the G.C. Murphy building."