Saturday, June 10, 2006

WHAT MAKES DOWNTOWN WORK?

I get lots of calls from folks who know what's wrong with downtown Wheeling. Too many bars, too many parking lots, too high taxes. So, we thought we'd take away the objections and see what IDEAS you have. Here's the idea: if start up money was no object, if we wrote you a check for whatever you need...buying land, hiring people, purchasing equipment, acquiring advertising....what's the one business that can't miss in downtown Wheeling.

We had a few ideas...some good, some iffy. A "Science Museum", like COSI in Columbus, for kids. A new TV Station. A Nike outlet store. A "Build-A-Bear" store. A "dollar store". A nightclub for seniors. A new/trendy tavern-restaurant.

Personally, I think downtown Wheeling works as it is. The future of a downtown such as ours lies in offices--doctors, lawyers, ad agencies, and radio stations. Banks and parking lots. Taverns and diners to serve the people working in the offices. Add a few specialty stores and you have a downtown.

If I had the "blank check" we imagined, I think I would buy and renovate a couple of buildings into "loft apartments". Trendy living spaces on the river for young middle-to-upper income professionals. After they moved in, I think additional trendy shops, small galleries and some entertainment would pop up to support them.

In the meantime, the City of Wheeling should buy and tear down as many of the ugly, dilapidated properties as it can. Plant some grass, maybe a tree. Create some downtown "mini-parks". And wait. When the time is right; when the next "big idea" comes along, someone will find a use for that space.

3 comments:

Pedro said...

We could start with some convenience stores, maybe a nice compact grocery store or deli that's open later. During a recent trip I had to drive to Ohio to find something to tak eback to the hotel to eat.

wv_mountaineer77 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wv_mountaineer77 said...

With the popularity of Jamboree in the Hills, I've always wondered if Wheeling had the potential to become another "Branson, MO" with strings of theaters of popular, family-friendly entertainment. I don't know if it could work or not, but it would be a wonderful boost to Wheeling and honor our Appliachian heritage and a step away from the economic and social drain of gambling.