Wheeling Makes Its Pitch For an HGTV Makeover

The video submitted by the City of Wheeling to the HGTV “Home Town Takeover” series opens with an aerial shot of the Friendly City. The video was produced by Wheeling Heritage and submitted by the city with hopes that Wheeling will be included in the new television series.

WHEELING — The City of Wheeling has made its pitch to HGTV in an effort to score a high-profile makeover in areas of town that can use some extra attention and a little “TLC.”

Many communities across the nation recently developed videos for submission to HGTV’s “Home Town Takeover” — a new concept series scheduled to air in 2021. Much like the popular HGTV series “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “Home Town” — in which television personalities/renovation experts help rejuvenate and revitalize the charm of old, sometimes historic but often outdated houses — the new series aims to go big.

That’s big, as in town-sized.

“Home Town Takeover,” to be hosted by the husband and wife team of Ben and Erin Napier from the hit “Home Town” series, will visit small towns across the U.S. to tackle whole-town transformations. The new show is slated to air as a six-episode series, and the HGTV had been soliciting pitches from small towns (populations 40,000 and under) for consideration to be part of the series. Submissions were due by Feb. 4, and many communities that submitted videos touting why their town was most deserving for inclusion in the new show began sharing their videos last week.

“Assistant City Manager Bill Lanham discovered the call for submissions for HGTV’s ‘Hometown Takeover’ and brought the idea to me and to Director of Economic and Community Development Nancy Prager,” said Michele Rejonis, marketing and community relations specialist for the City of Wheeling. “We thought it was a great idea to throw Wheeling’s hat into the ring for the contest.”

Submissions from other local communities also were shared on social media this week, including video clips for the City of Martins Ferry and the villages of Morristown and Barnesville.

Applicants were asked to highlight aspects of their town that make it “special, fascinating, historic or unique” and to include “distinctive features like vintage period architecture, special destinations or a classic main street.” Applicants from prospective towns also were asked to pinpoint areas that could use a breath of new life. The Napiers said citizens of the selected towns can expect to witness the rehab of multiple individual family homes as well as the revitalization of public spaces such as parks, local diners or restaurants and outdoor recreation areas.

In Wheeling, city officials had plenty of architecture and history to boast, and they brainstormed what areas would greatly benefit from a “flip” on national television.

“After some discussion and research, we decided to tell the story of Wheeling and feature the city’s Nelson Jordan Center as a potential project for the show,” Rejonis said. “At that point, I enlisted the services of the very talented video production team from Wheeling Heritage. They produced Wheeling’s video that has been seen on social media. They did a tremendous job capturing the stories of those who regularly utilize the Nelson Jordan Center and the importance the facility plays to each of them and the community as a whole.”

Rejonis said it was also necessary to provide a narrative about the city which, in a condensed manner, provided a summary of the past 250 years, including both “the good times and the more challenging times,” she said. In addition to the video, the submission to HGTV also included images of the Wheeling Nailers, the waterfront and Heritage Port, Centre Market and the Capitol Theatre.

“This was a very exciting project on which to work,” Rejonis said. “Great things are happening in the City of Wheeling, but an HGTV ‘Home Town Takeover’ would only enhance our city that is already heading in the right direction. My fingers are crossed.”

The shows hosts have noted their mission with the new show was to help create and foster a town persona that draws on its roots, history and traditions.

A large-scale renovation is not exactly a new venture for the people behind the show. The Napiers have been credited not only for helping to enhance dozens of homes in their hometown of Laurel, Miss., but they also have helped revitalize the city’s downtown while preserving its existing historic treasures.

“Renovating one house at a time is an awesome experience, but the chance to support an entire town, where we help bring a community back to life — that’s something we’ve always wanted to try,” series host Ben Napier states on the show’s HGTV website.

“This is a big one,” Erin Napier added, encouraging citizens to submit photos and videos about their communities. “HGTV has never, ever taken on a whole-town renovation and restoration project, and we’re so proud and excited to be leading the team that will get it done.

“Tell us what makes your town special and how you’d like us to help make it better. You may see us in your town soon.”

To view the video, click here.


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