Wonderful news for Wheeling Jesuit University and downtown Wheeling was announced this week. WJU is relocating its physical therapy doctoral program from the main campus to the Stone Center on Main Street.
In addition to helping the university grow, the plan is another step in the re-invention of downtown Wheeling.
A substantial part of the Stone Center, formerly the Stone and Thomas department store, will be occupied by the university. The building, redeveloped by the Regional Economic Development Partnership, already had one major tenant (the Williams Lea document processing firm).
One key to redeveloping the entire downtown business district is bringing people to it. In addition to the scores of faculty and students who will use the WJU Stone Center facility, it will attract a substantial amount of traffic from the public. That is because the university will be offering a free physical therapy clinic in the building.
At the north end of the downtown business district, then, WJU is becoming a major partner in taking Wheeling's future in a new direction. At the south end, major development by West Virginia Northern Community College is doing the same thing.
Deals such as that which is expanding the WJU campus into downtown Wheeling require a great deal of work and expertise, of course. For that, as well as for having enough faith in the city's future to invest in the Stone Center, RED officials deserve credit.
The highest praise this week should go to WJU officials, however. No doubt there were other options for the physical therapy program. Locating it in downtown Wheeling is one more important indication of the partnership between our community and the university - one that will benefit both the city and WJU in the future.