OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – More details are coming to light about the visitors center to be built on the site of the former Wheeling Inn. In a news conference Wednesday morning, we learned about the vision the Convention and Visitors Bureau has for the new facility.
In the city that is a giant construction zone already, the thought of more construction is a hard concept. But at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, they say the timing was critical.
They bought the old Wheeling Inn and the next step…is demolition.
They’d like to see the former Wheeling Inn torn down in 6 months. They have the money for the demolition–a bank loan of $700,000. And with the Wheeling streetscape project going on now, they feel a need for speed.
“The worst case scenario is we ever have to tear up a sidewalk that was just built so that’s not something we’re gonna do if it can be avoided at all costs.”Frank O’Brien, Executive Director, Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau
The CVB office currently in the Intermodal Center, has never been an ideal location for visitors.
“By the time people find us, from getting off the highway, they’re lost. And frustrated. And when we tell ’em there’s great things to see and do, they say well, getting here was too big of a problem.”Frank O’Brien, Executive Director, Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau
They envision a one-story mostly glass visitor center that showcases the Wheeling Suspension Bridge and the Ohio River and includes the city’s culture and history.
“I’ve grown up in Wheeling. I remember the days of the bustling streets of downtown Wheeling. I get it. But this project is gonna allow downtown Wheeling to turn the page into a new chapter of viability for downtown Wheeling.”Doug Carl, Owner, Bridge Tavern and Grill
No one mentioned the drug use, property decline and eventual closure of the Wheeling Inn as a public nuisance. The CVB has bought the property for $1.7 million dollars. The focus is now on its removal and beyond.
“Just having that property cleaned up and making it beautiful for the eye of the visitor that is coming into town, it’s gonna make an impact, immediately.”Michael Biela, Marketing Assistant, VB
“We own the property, the acquisition has been made, and all I can say is, stay tuned, because it’s really time to celebrate.”Olivia Litman, Marketing Director, Visit Wheeling
They’d like to see it up and running in 3 years, 4 at the most. They’re already pursuing funding to make the construction happen.