WHEELING - Hoping to get city-owned vacant and dilapidated properties back into productivity, the Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission wants city officials to sell the structures for "pre-determined" prices.
During the Thursday commission meeting, members C.J. Kaiser, Patrick Cassidy, Victor Greco, Jeremy Morris, Rebecca Swords and Gregory Smith voted to submit a series of recommendations to City Council for consideration. Members aim to get city-owned structures back on the market.
"Getting real property back into the hands of individuals and businesses who are committed to improving and using the property enhances the economic vitality, the tax base and the progress of the city of Wheeling," is the stated purpose of the project. Commissioners hope the plan will not only improve the appearance of those properties but turn them into sources of revenue for the city rather than drains on its resources.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Tom Connelly, left, speaks during the Thursday Wheeling Historic Landmarks Commission meeting. Seated next to Connelly are Patrick Cassidy, center, and C.J. Kaiser.
There are many vacant and dilapidated structures throughout Wheeling, some of which are owned by the city. Wheeling gains ownership of some of these buildings because the private owners cannot afford to repair the structures, so they give them to the city instead of trying to fix them.
Some city-owned properties that could be sold include, for example, the former Gene Long Community Center at the corner of Virginia and South Penn streets on Wheeling Island; the former Tom's Pizza building next to Braunlich's on Main Street; the former police precinct building near 15th and Wood streets; three vacant lots - two on 14th Street and one on 15th Street, all between Jacob and Wood streets; and the former Imperial Pools building on McColloch Street.
During the meeting, commissioners instructed Tom Connelly, assistant director of the Wheeling Economic and Community Development Department, to identify other possible structures.
In its recommendation to council, the commission states that the buildings should be sold to private owners for a "price that should be determined on a case-by-case basis. The commission would need to evaluate the rehabilitation proposals for the potential owners, which would need to include at least an estimated cost, a five-year timeline for the project, renderings of how the finished project would look, and treatments for windows, doors and other architectural features.
According to the commission's recommendation to council, the buyer would be eligible for a waiver from Wheeling's vacant building registration registration and fee requirement for five years. However, if the purchaser fails to complete the rehabilitation within five years, ownership of the property would revert back to the city.
Also during the meeting, Cassidy asked about the status of the Rogers Hotel on 14th Street. Connelly said the city is currently working to force the owner, Mark Jaber, to either complete his rehabilitation project or tear down the building.
The commission will next meet at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 6 in the third floor conference room at the City-County Building, 1500 Main St., Wheeling.