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Looking Forward to Becoming Part of Wheeling

To the residents of Wheeling:

As interested buyers of the 1400 block buildings, and prospective Wheeling residents, we want to share a little bit about our story with you.

Typically, a move across country for a family would either be to be closer to family or for a new job with some big benefits. For us, neither of those options brought us this far east — 1,761 miles to be exact.

Both my wife Nikki and I have lived in the desert of Arizona and Nevada for most of our lives. Nikki went to school to become a physician assistant and has worked in orthopedic surgery, urgent care facilities, and most recently, the skin care and med-spa industry. I, on the other hand, have a construction background and a furniture building business. I have a deep appreciation for architecture and the history behind a unique piece of furniture.

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.

After meeting with many people and touring much in Wheeling, we felt like this town has a lot to offer. We met with the community manager at Boury Lofts and got to see some of their project, which led us to talk to Betsy at Wheeling Heritage. Betsy helped us understand the wonderful incentives throughout the city and state to help us get started. She was then able to set up a few appointments with the city development, fire marshal, city inspector and even Mayor Elliot! 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.

To do what we did in a larger city would have been nearly impossible 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. 

I also brought my family out with me, and we enjoyed your city. We had a slice of pizza at DiCarlo’s (even though cold cheese on a pizza sounded weird, it actually tasted amazing!). We went up the road to Oglebay Park and watched some kids snowboard down the hills there. We went to tour Richie Elementary and met the principal, John, who gave us a 2-hour tour and was just wonderful. We had some awesome fish sandwiches at Coleman’s at Centre Market. We enjoyed a Celtic Festival held downtown and got to see some amazing local craftsmanship and talent. We went to a Wheeling Nailers game, and even though the Nailer’s lost (and my little daughter cried as I wouldn’t order her a tall cup of “apple juice” that adults were drinking at the game) we really had a blast! The ref threw my son the game puck, and that was very special for him. We walked the halls of the arena and saw the pride the city has in their youth and school programs. We had a meal at Wheeling Brewing Co. We sat on some benches overlooking the Ohio. We had a burger at the Bridge Tavern. We toured through the nice shops at Centre Market. We had a meal at Later Alligator. 

I’m sure I am forgetting a few things, and we look forward to quite a few more memories in Wheeling. We hope we can add to this great community and work together to make it even better.

With love and gratitude, we wish Wheeling a very happy holiday and a Merry Christmas, all the way from Tucson, Arizona.

Sincerely,

Ryan and the rest of the Stoker family.

Editor’s note: The Stokers are working with Wheeling city officials to acquire four dilapidated buildings in the 1400 block of Market Street, which they propose to repair and renovate for future use.

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