WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – It’s been almost a year since Helping Heroes announced they were going to make themselves a permanent part of the downtown Wheeling landscape.
Since then, the former Columbia Gas building on 16th Street has gotten quite the makeover.
While outside you’ll see a lot of construction equipment, inside there’s been a lot of progress.
There has been a lot of deconstruction.R.J. Konkoleski, CEO, Helping Heroes
Helping Heroes knows sometimes you have to tear things apart to build them up again and make them better and that’s what’s happening inside their new headquarters.
When I first saw this building and we made the decision to purchase it there were some questions and a little bit of hesitation, but looking at it now and seeing the progress and all these workers around here getting stuff done is fantastic. It’s exciting.Jeremy Harrison, Co-Founder, Helping Heroes
The demolition phase is just about over. It included asbestos removal and stabilizing parts of the building that were unsafe after a roof collapse.
Helping Heroes to transform downtown Wheeling building
Workers are up on the roof. If you drive by you’ll see a lot of activity up there. There’s some red flags hanging around. The next goal is to get all the roofing replaced and make the building weather tight so we can start real construction on the inside.R.J. Konkoleski, CEO, Helping Heroes
They’re treating this partly as a historical project and trying to go back to the original floor plans and uncovering some of the original flooring.
Outside you’ll see some of the brick is gone that held a very distinct flame design that the symbol of Manufacturer’s Light and Columbia Gas. It will be replaced.
So, it’ll look just like it did when the building was new. Of course the mural out front, which has really kind of become an iconic symbol of the property, we’re not going to need to remove it and replace it or anything. It will be able to be cleaned. It’s in very good condition.R.J. Konkoleski, CEO, Helping Heroes
The plans include three floors of transitional housing, offices, and eventually retail space downstairs that will feature a coffee shop and thrift store.
We’ll have that for a couple reasons. One is to train the veterans and get them back in the workforce. The other is to support the organization and hopefully make a little bit of money to put back into these projects.Jeremy Harrison, Co-Founder, Helping Heroes
Each wall that’s built and brick that’s laid is all with the goal of reaching more veterans.
Helping Heroes started with one veteran in its transitional housing program. Now they have five. The organization plans to have 15 in the new space.
Plus, with a larger building means more jobs. The goal is to add about 25 positions.
The project has a price tag of about $6 million and Helping Heroes is securing historic tax credits to covert part of the cost.
While they knew it would be expensive, Helping Heroes still needs the community’s help to make sure their mission is complete.
Every little bit helps. This is a huge undertaking for us and we could definitely use the support.Jeremy Harrison, Co-Founder, Helping Heroes
Helping Heroes wants to thank the community for the support so far and they hope it will continue during the remainder of the construction, and even after.
If you’d like to make a donation or reach out to the group, call 304-232-0114 or visit helpingheroesinc.org.
You can also mail checks to 44 16th Street, Wheeling, West Virginia 26003.