WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – The project to build a new cancer center to replace the former OVMC facility has taken a major step forward.

After two years of planning the process to build the Wheeling Hospital/West Virginia University Health System Regional Cancer Center has officially begun.

This is a 2-phase project: First, OVMC will have to be demolished and cleared of asbestos. This part kicked off on Tuesday, October 24th. Financing has been put together and the city has transferred the property lease to WVU Medicine and Wheeling Hospital. That will cost $8.2 million dollars and take about 14 months. The city of Wheeling is involved in this phase.

The second phase of the project involves constructing the facility itself. This part will be handled by WVU Health System and Wheeling Hospital, and is estimated to cost $75-95 million dollars.

The taxpayers have owned the OVMC facility since it was closed by Alecto in 2019. The city of Wheeling then acquired it, and have been looking into ways to market or renovate it ever since. Wheeling City Manager Bob Herron says it became quickly apparent that the buildings were obsolete and any renovation would be expensive.

“OVMC was a very special place for many, many people for many years in this community. It holds a soft spot in many people’s hearts, and it’s unfortunate what happened to it, but I believe very strongly that this is the right course of action and that once the site is prepared, the new cancer center is constructed, that this community will be very proud of what’s been put back at that location.”

Bob Herron, Wheeling City Manager

Herron says this cancer center is one of the largest projects in Wheeling’s history, and will be transformative for the Friendly City. He also acknowledges it represents yet another massive project going on in Wheeling, but says in a few years all the hassle will be worth it.

As for the Center Wheeling parking garage, that will NOT be part of the cancer center project. The city has received bids to tear it down, and Herron hopes to present a contract to the city by November 7th to begin that process.

The new cancer center has also received a large contribution from the Ohio County Commission.
When the city of Wheeling officially transferred the property to WVU Health System on Tuesday, commissioners presented them with a check for $2 million dollars to go towards the project.

At Wednesday night’s council meeting, the council ratified a motion acknowledging the contribution.

Stay with 7NEWS for updates.