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19th Street Area of Wheeling Undergoes a Facelift

Photo Provided An artistic rendering shows the completed expansion of Northwood Health System’s facility on the corner of 19th and Wood streets in Wheeling. Following the closure of Ohio Valley Medical Center where Northwood’s Behavioral Health Center had been housed as a tenant for many years, construction has been moving forward for a new addition for outpatient and residential care services on property adjacent to Northwood’s existing administrative offices.

WHEELING — The area of 19th Street in Wheeling is undergoing a major facelift from both the private and public sectors, as Northwood Health Systems continues to bring improvements to the site where its new addition is under construction.

On the other end of 19th Street, the city of Wheeling is moving ahead with plans to remediate and raze dilapidated industrial warehouse buildings just off of W.Va. 2 at the southern entrance to the downtown area.

City leaders have stated that these projects bring much welcome upgrades to this growing area of East Wheeling, where a number of businesses have made other noted investments in recent years.

This past week, members of the Development Committee of Wheeling City Council met virtually to discuss a proposed lane abandonment related to Northwood’s ongoing expansion project. The proposal was to vacate Lane F between 19th Street and Lane 16 near the site where Northwood Health Systems is building an addition to its administrative office building.

The new addition will create space for outpatient and residential care services. Plans for the expansion were approved by the city last May.

Tom Connelly, director of building and planning for the city of Wheeling, noted that the portion of Lane F was located to the west of the Northwood building and was an alley that is not used very much.

There were no objections to the lane abandonment from the public, and Connelly noted that the staff at the building and planning office was recommending its approval.

“I think this is the first abandonment in my experience where we haven’t gotten any objections whatsoever,” Mayor Glenn Elliott said. “I don’t think there was anything received other than ‘good luck’ from one of the neighbors.”

Mark Games, president and CEO of Northwood Health Systems, said the lane abandonment and the recent acquisition of some neighboring properties will allow the new center to accommodate additional parking.

“We purchased three properties to the west of that lane that we’re asking to abandon, so we’re getting surveys done on that right now, and the plan would be to turn all of that into parking,” Games said. “I’m not sure exactly how many spaces we’ll get. We have about 12 going up on the building along the side now, so at least 12 more, and even a few additional with the demolition of those three buildings.”

Upon the closure in the fall of 2019 of the Ohio Valley Medical Center, the Northwood Behavioral Health Services Center on Eoff Street became the last remaining tenant at the OVMC campus when the city took ownership of the property last year. The new addition to its existing administrative offices on 19th street will offer a new, updated facility where patient services will relocate once completed.

The new two-story addition being built on the site will contain 24,800 square feet of space, according to the initial designs. A warehouse that once sat on the lot adjacent to the administrative building was razed last year, and the removal of old structures and building of the new wing will bring significant improvements to this part of the growing neighborhood, officials said.

“I think this is going to be a great addition to a part of East Wheeling that could really use some new building energy,” Elliott said. “We’re going to be doing our part at the other end of 19th Street to try to clean up that side as well.”

According to the plans for the Northwood expansion, new sidewalks will be constructed in a pedestrian-friendly setting, as will new access points to the property will a pull-through overhead canopy in a drop-off area, new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant parking and a new main entrance to the entire facility that opens into a new public lobby area.

The red brick façade design is similar to the existing administrative building and is intended to give a nod to the industrial history of the neighborhood while also creating a contemporary, residential look to the exterior with fiber cement panels on the second floor.

Plans for the interior of the addition call for a Crisis Stabilization Unit, outpatient therapy rooms, clinical spaces, offices, 16 bedrooms for resident patients, group therapy rooms, kitchen and laundry rooms, and more.

“Thank you for the investment in our community,” Councilman Ben Seidler told Games. “The new building looks great, and we’re excited to see it get finished.”

Games said they looked forward to completing the project and relocating to the new site, which will leave one more space at the former OVMC campus for the city to market to a new tenant or potential buyer.

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