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Arizona Couple Presents Plan to Wheeling Officials for Market Street Redevelopment

WHEELING — Within five years, Ryan and Nikki Stoker plan to have four dilapidated properties in the 1400 block of Market Street rehabilitated and showing new life.

A new storefront is aimed at becoming a reality within the first year and a half, according to the Stokers, who, according to their proposal submitted to the city, plan to eventually have both a med-spa and a furniture store open by the time the dust settles.

The four properties at 1425, 1429, 1433 and 1437 Market Street are currently vacant except for one building that houses an adult bookstore. The future of that property is unclear, if the transfer goes through.

On Tuesday, Wheeling City Council will hear second reading of an ordinance and then vote on transferring the properties to the Stokers for a nominal fee. The city recently spent $49,000 to stabilize one of the dilapidated properties, and taxpayers spent nearly $300,000 in late 2015 to purchase the sites. According to the proposal submitted to council, the Stokers plan to spend around two years on phases one and two — facade repairs and rehabilitation of the 1425 property, and rehabilitation of the 1429 property. This should free up space for two new businesses and five housing units.

Phases one and two are estimated to come in at more than $2.5 million, with $1.35 million coming in the form of investment by the Stokers, $854,964 in historic tax credit equity, and $360,000 in “city incentives” offered by Wheeling.

An incentive timeline agreement itemizes these incentives as $60,000 from the city in facade improvements, and $150,000 each to fix the roofs at 1429 and 1437 Market Street.

The Stokers’ ultimate goal for the final two phases are to build the entire first floor of the 1433 property as a restaurant, and move their family home into the upper two floors. The proposal also includes an “agreement” with the adult book store, which is tentatively planned to become a gym facility and offices or apartments in the upper stories.

“We hope by the end of our fifth year in Wheeling we will have created a place for the community to gather, and a block that people go out of their way to walk by,” the Stokers said in the proposal.

Ryan Stoker, according to the proposal, has 10 years of experience in structural steel framing, as well as experience in residential renovation, roofing, mold removal, and maintains an active real estate license. He also operates a custom furniture business. Nikki Stoker is a licensed physician assistant, who has recently worked alongside plastic surgeons and dermatologists in the field of aesthetic medicine. She plans to establish a med-spa.

In a letter published in the Dec. 15 Sunday News-Register, Ryan Stoker discussed how the couple came to choose Wheeling: “Nikki has always had the dream of owning her own med spa, and I’ve always had a dream to have a furniture store to showcase a few of my designs. When I came across the 1400 block properties online, I immediately was intrigued. The buildings had the look we were going for, but to be honest, we had never even heard of the name Wheeling before — so we began our research.

“First and most importantly, we had to be sure there was a good school district. Check. Next, we had to know if the population was large enough to sustain a few new businesses. Check. Last, we had to come see the town for ourselves, to see if we would feel comfortable leaving everything we knew for a wild gamble on this historical project.”

Ryan Stoker said both the city and Wheeling Heritage accomodated his family as they began their research, and noted in the end the city’s open and friendly atmosphere made the decision easy. “We were able to ask a lot of questions to a lot of important people, face to face. This probably impressed me the most about Wheeling — the people,” he said in his letter.

“To do what we did in a larger city would have been nearly impossible to accomplish. Over the course of two more visits to Wheeling, I was able to better understand the full scope of the project, and was able to meet with many different tradesmen and contractors who will be helping us tackle many portions of this renovation. … We hope we can add to this great community and work together to make it even better.”

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