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1400 Block Buildings Being Cleaned Out | News, Sports, Jobs

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Work is underway to clean out the 1400 block of Market Street buildings in Wheeling on Wednesday.

WHEELING – Work is underway to clean out buildings in the 1400 block of Market Street ahead of their redevelopment by Desmone Architects of Pittsburgh.

A landmark business in the block – the adult video and bookstore Market Street News that had operated at the site for decades – officially moved out of the city-owned block of downtown buildings last fall, city officials said.

Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott said that after the partnership with Desmone was solidified, the plan was to allow the bookstore to operate there until contractors were ready to move forward with work at the site, which has now begun.

“There is no way to do the major rehab on any of those buildings and keep an active tenant in place,” Elliott said. “From our perspective, the adult video store was an excellent tenant, and we had conveyed to them that we would love to see them stay in Wheeling. Our zoning laws would limit where a new adult establishment could be located, but hopefully we could work something out in the right situation.”

Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron said the business had been renting the space from the city on a month-to-month basis, and at this point, they have not relocated.

photo by: Photo by Shelley Hanson

Tile work depicting a football player, a baseball catcher and a basketball player are shown on the front of the old Sportsman Club, one of the buildings being cleaned out in the 1400 block of Market Street this week.

“All the rent that they paid in over the several years that we’ve owned that building has gone into a fund which will be used to revitalize these buildings,” Elliott said, noting that this pool of money had accumulated around $70,000 the last time he saw a total.

Over the past several months, bricks from the upper level of the 1431 Market St. building had been falling into the alley, which the city closed for safety reasons. Officials representing Desmone had been aware of the problem and advised city leaders that a plan was in place to sure up the exterior of the building as soon as possible.

On Oct. 6, Wheeling City Solicitor Rosemary Humway-Warmuth sent a 30-day notice to terminate the month-to-month lease with Brookline Inc., which was doing business as Market Street News. In the letter, the solicitor noted that the property was deemed to be unsafe by the city’s fire department and building code department.

“Due to severe problems with the roof, which after recent stores had suffered structural damage including bricks and mortar falling from the building, the city is concerned for the safety of the public and those within the structure,” Humway-Warmuth wrote.

The business began vacating the site in October and November, and contractors for Desmone recently began clearing out the buildings.

photo by: Photo by Shelley Hanson

Work vehicles are shown in the alleyway beside the 1400 block of Market Street buildings in Wheeling. The buildings are being cleaned out ahead of redevelopment.

Passersby may have noticed the work beginning this week, catching a glimpse of people wearing hazmat-style suits going in and out of the buildings.

A worker at the site said the suits were meant to just keep employees’ clothing clean, and there was no asbestos abatement happening.

The city purchased 1437, 1433 and 1492 Market St. in 2005 and 1429 Market St. in 2006 with the idea of razing the buildings to make room for new development. However, after getting a $350,000 estimate for demolishing the buildings, city leaders decided it would be best to see if anyone would be interested in rehabbing the buildings.

The businesses that once operated there included the Market Street News adult book and novelty store, G&G bar and Sportsman Club.

A number of potential developers had come forward with plans to revitalize the 1400 block buildings, but none came to fruition in the past. City leaders indicated that they believe Desmone’s project to redevelop the downtown site – projected to be an investment of around $7 million – will bring a new life to this portion of downtown.

photo by: Photo by Shelley Hanson

Work is underway to clean out the 1400 block of Market Street buildings in Wheeling on Wednesday.

Working in conjunction with Wheeling Heritage, the city sought requests for proposals for the site’s redevelopment in 2021. They received three different proposals from three different developers and eventually decided to move ahead with Desmone’s proposal.

Desmone’s plan for the building includes the creation of a new retail space on the bottom of 1437 Market St. while the first floors of the other buildings would be turned into a large restaurant featuring outdoor seating in the rear of the facility. Parking also would be located in the rear. The upper floors most likely would be converted into Airbnb units.

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