WHEELING - City officials may not spend $400,000 on additional work at the demolition site in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets in downtown Wheeling after all - at least not any time soon, according to City Manager Robert Herron.
The city has already spent a total of about $1.9 million to purchase and demolish most of the buildings on that block to create open space for future development, using revenue from two separate Tax Increment Financing bond issues in 2007 and 2011. Officials had set aside an additional $400,000 from the 2011 bond issue for short-term improvements to the property, with temporary parking, landscaping or some combination of those identified as options.
But holding onto that money would give the city more to work with should a developer step forward with a more impactful opportunity for the block, or elsewhere in the TIF district. Herron said he would "absolutely" prefer the city save that money for true development rather than a temporary improvement that may have to be removed in a year or two.
Photo by Ian Hicks
A light dusting of snow blankets the city-owned plot of land in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets in downtown Wheeling, cleared by city leaders last year for future development.
Grass was planted and a decorative fence installed along the south edge of the property as part of the demolition contract, and while he said there's no specific project in the works yet, Herron is satisfied with the lot's appearance for now.
"It looks OK. ... That gives us some time to decide what we really want to do with the site," he said. "Obviously, our primary goal is to market that property for future development."
The city has about $1.6 million left of the $3.14 million generated by the 2011 TIF bond issue, $500,000 of which has been earmarked for the upcoming Market Plaza renovation, and another $200,000 for upgrades at the Capitol. Money from the 2011 TIF bond issue can be spent on projects within an area known as "Project Plan Area No. 3," encompassing the Capitol Theater and all properties from the Horne's building south to Wheeling Creek, west to Water Street and east to the west side of Market Street.
The city is still pursuing the former Howard's Diamond Center building in the 1100 block of Market Street - which officials had unsuccessfully attempted to acquire several years ago along with the already-demolished buildings on the block - but is awaiting the outcome of a dispute in federal court between the jewelry store and its insurance company before renewing negotiations.