PARKERSBURG - Local officials are teaming with architects and engineers to showcase potential uses for vacant buildings in downtown Parkersburg.
Carrie Nesselrode, executive director of Downtown PKB, said about a dozen local officials along with professionals from Charleston and Morgantown toured vacant buildings in downtown Parkersburg. The project is being overseen by Downtown PKB's Economic Restructuring Committee.
The group was brought to the area through a cooperative agreement with Downtown PKB and the West Virginia Redevelopment Collaborative.
Photos by Michael Erb
The Citizen’s Building at 401 Market St. is one of two downtown buildings that will be showcased by Downtown PKB.
The group toured three facilities on Market Street- The Dils Building at 521-529 Market, Citizen's Building at 401 Market and Drake Property at 814-816 Market-and the Campbell Building at 214 7th St.
The group will create architectural drawings for both Citizen's and the Drake, as well as the blocks in-between the two structures, to showcase the area's potential use.
"Later we will have an open house for the public and potential investors," Nesselrode said. "We want them to see some of the potential of these downtown properties."
The open house date has not yet been announced.
Nesselrode said that potential includes housing, business offices and shops. Ideally, she said, a building could be used for all three, providing downtown employees places to live and shop.
"It is a group effort to showcase and show what some of these buildings could be," she said.
Carrie Staton, West Virginia Redevelopment Collaborative coordinator, said the collaborative gathers "multi-disciplinary teams to work on specific projects in a community.
"We've found when you have all of these people working together from the start, they have better information," Staton said. "It lowers some of those barriers you have when you piecemeal a project."
Nesselrode said a recently announced project to renovate the Uptowner Inn as an extended-stay hotel could provide incentive for businesses to look at other downtown facilities for renovation.
"I think it will help," she said. "I think when we have the Uptowner finished, we will see a greater need for places to go downtown," she said.
Nesselrode said Parkersburg provides incentives for businesses to locate downtown, especially in cases where unused buildings are renovated and occupied. One of the aspects of Downtown PKB is to help find financial aid and incentives for businesses considering a downtown location.
"They could be looking at grants and loans, at historic status and incentives for buildings," she said. "Part of what we will do is to help them find financial help."
The West Virginia Redevelopment Collaborative is funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and is a program of the Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center, which is housed in the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WV WRI) at the National Research Center for Coal & Energy at West Virginia University in Morgantown. For more information, visit wvredevelopment.org/.
For more information on Downtown PKB and its committees, visit downtownpkb.com/.