Downtown Wheeling in Brian Gessler’s childhood was bustling.
“It was like you couldn’t even walk on the sidewalks, it was so crowded,” said Gessler, of Laupp Florist.
Half a century later, Wheeling is quiet and much less crowded.
But with an upcoming infusion of hundreds of people with Health Plan building their headquarters here, businesses will be called upon to provide many services.
“In the long run, it’s going to be quite a few, I believe,” said Gessler. “But just to start out, people are going to need a place to park. They’re going to need a place to eat lunch. Some may stay for dinner or do something in the evening here downtown.”
The Wheeling Nailers offer a great way to spend an evening.
“I think these people are going to be looking for entertainment,” said Craig Bommer, vice president of the Nailers. “And we’re here to provide it for them. I think it’s going to be a positive for everybody.”
The green space where GC Murphy once stood will be the site of a huge facility which will accommodate 420 employees.
They will all get a lunch break, and that’s why Chris Burress is smiling.
The owner of Tito’s Sloppy Dogs says he is happiest when he has a lot of mouths to feed.
“Oh It’ll be a little hectic in the beginning,” noted Burress. “But we will get by. We will make sure everybody’s food gets out hot and fresh. I can’t wait.”
Merchants hope the Health Plan employees will walk, browse, buy, and adopt Wheeling as their own.