Revitalization of the downtown area of Wheeling is a frequently discussed topic in the Ohio Valley, so Mayor Glenn Elliott and Executive Director of Wheeling Heritage Jake Dougherty payed a visit to Greenville, South Carolina last week. It is a city of about 65,000 people that has seen major growth and revitalization similar to what people are hoping to see here in Wheeling.
“You can walk down the street. There’s very little vacancy, no surface parking lots. There’s consistency and excitement in the buildings and the businesses that they have,” said Dougherty.
During their visit, Elliott and Dougherty met with the Greenville Mayor, Director of Economic Development and a council member. They learned that in the early 1990s, Greenville’s downtown area looked similar to Wheeling’s with limited retail options and vacant buildings, but what Mayor Elliott says is important to take away is that revitalization takes time and initial investment by the city.
“One of the things you learn in talking to Greenville public officials is you have to be patient. You’re not going to get there over night, and I think sometimes we want to see Wheeling be tomorrow be all the things we want it to be,” said Elliott.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but we have to be very careful and diligent and patient. We have to have a vision of where we want to go and actually get the private sector to buy into that vision. I think that’s the lesson from Greenville.”
Elliott and Dougherty say that Wheeling has even more resources and advantages on hand than Greenville did with a major river and stock of historical buildings.
While they acknowledge Greenville does not hold the perfect solution for the city of Wheeling, it is a good place to start.