WHEELING - The former Robinson car dealership on 16th Street is being renovated for use as a West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources office.
The property's owner, Mike Ferns of Wheeling, purchased the downtown Wheeling site for $650,000 from the Ohio County Development Authority last year.
Marsha Dadisman, DHHR spokeswoman, said when renovations are complete about 100 Ohio County DHHR employees will be relocated to the site from their current location at 407 Main St., North Wheeling.
An artist’s rendering shows how the exterior of the old Robinson building, right, will look after renovation. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will rent the building for office space in November.
"DHHR staff includes the Bureau for Children and Families and the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement. Full DHHR services will be available at the new site," she said.
Diane Holley-Brown, West Virginia Department of Administration spokeswoman, said DHHR is leasing the space, and the renovation work is being designed by McKinley & Associates of Wheeling.
"Outside work on the building is in process and the interior work is to begin very soon. The building has 25,000 square feet, with approximately 100 parking spaces in downtown Wheeling. The lease is for an initial 10-year term ... and occupancy is planned for November 2012," Holley-Brown said.
Ferns said he plans to name the structure the "Mary Margaret Laipple Professional Building," after his wife Linda's mother.
"It will be good. ... We're going to make it nice," Ferns said.
Mike Price, project manager at McKinley & Associates, said the building will remain white with some gray added. The large front windows will be removed, and smaller windows will be installed to provide more privacy for clients.
"The biggest challenge will be redoing the infrastructure such as the sanitary lines and storm lines," Price said. "We're also doing an all-new electric package."
Howard Gamble, Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department administrator, said having the DHHR office nearby will have a positive impact on some of the health department's clinics and programs.
"We often work with them on issues such as elevated blood lead levels in children and involve them in situations and problems that we find during some of our inspections. So having them closer will be a benefit. In addition, having their offices just up the street may also allow us to utilize their meeting rooms for programs," Gamble said.