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Wheeling Gateway Center Will "Redefine The Entrance To The City”

Wheeling, West Virginia, May 16th 2024 – The City of Wheeling, Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), Wheeling Heritage, RED, and Ohio County are on the cusp of fulfilling a promise to redefine the entrance to the city for both locals and visitors alike.  Last summer, these agencies publicly announced a joint effort to positively transform the primary entrance into downtown Wheeling from Interstate 70. 

The new Wheeling Gateway Center will greet visitors with a stunning new view of the globally recognized historic suspension bridge, which has been visually shielded by the former, and blighted Wheeling Inn.  Originally constructed in 1974, the structure will be environmentally remediated and demolished on its 50th birthday, which will mark a new era for downtown redevelopment within Wheeling.   

“The demolition of the Wheeling Inn will provide an opportunity for unprecedented access to the historic suspension bridge, Wheeling Heritage trail, and the Ohio River,” said Frank O’Brien, Executive Director of the Wheeling-Ohio County Convention Visitor’s Bureau.

O’Brien continued, “This project’s mission is to advance economic transformation for the region by creating thriving waterfront experiences, unforgettable memories, and a genuine sense of belonging for both our visitors and local community.  With the region’s overall goal of increasing the number of visitors, while elevating the quality of their experience, we were a natural fit to take on this project.”

In recent years, Governor Justice’s administration has invested heavily to increase tourism throughout the State of West Virginia, and the City of Wheeling provides one of the best opportunities to showcase the beauty and heritage of the state.  In a 2022 annual report completed by the West Virginia Department of Tourism, Ohio County received $388 million in annual traveler direct spending, which sustained 2,760 jobs relating to tourism.  Overall, the State of West Virginia received over $7 Billion in direct economic impact, according to the 2022 report.

“The former Wheeling Inn site is one of the top sites in the State of West Virginia to create an unforgettable visitor’s experience, due to the direct access from I70, the soon-to-be completed streetscape project, the suspension bridge, and our plan to incorporate a direct connection from this site to the Heritage trail and riverfront,” said Robert Herron, City Manager of Wheeling.

The City of Wheeling will hold a contract with RAZE International Inc. to complete the remediation and demolition work, which will be funded by the West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection’s Dilapidated Properties Program.

Herron continued, “Through the City’s previous collaboration with the State of West Virginia to coordinate the multi-million-dollar Streetscape project, and with the State’s renovation of the historic suspension bridge, and the fact that the City owns the hillside and riverfront property near the Wheeling Inn site, it makes a lot of sense to continue our positive working relationship with the State to deal with the challenges of remediating and demolishing the existing building.” 

The Convention Visitor’s Bureau completed a public bidding process in the fall of 2023 to hire an architectural and engineering team to analyze the site’s soil conditions, building’s structural systems, and author a plan for contractors to execute the demolition safely and efficiently.  The effort, led by Desmone’s Morgantown, West Virginia Office, also collaborated with City officials and utility providers to forecast probable locations and capacities for future utility services for the new building. 

“We really commend the City of Wheeling’s public infrastructure team, electric, gas, and fiber service providers for being proactive to ensure that we take care of all of the necessary infrastructure under Main Street before it is paved later this summer,” said Brad Frankhouser, Desmone’s lead Project Manager.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau has also entered into an agreement with West Virginia’s Voluntary Remediation Program, which is a structured mechanism to achieve compliance with applicable state and federal environmental requirements.  These requirements were incorporated in the final remediation and demolition bidding package, which was publicly advertised a day prior to the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s public community event at the Capitol Theatre on February 28th, 2024. 

Due to the complexity of the site and the agreements with the WVDEP, all bids required contractors to provide a detailed work plan, schedule, and a bid bond as a part of their submission.  RAZE was determined to be the lowest, qualified bid after scopes of work were reviewed. 


On Tuesday May 7th, City Council unanimously approved a 1st and 2nd read of the contract with RAZE to expedite the mobilization of the work.  Shortly after this approval, the Convention and Visitors Bureau has notified Triton Construction to clear their materials and equipment from the Wheeling Inn parking lot, which was being used for construction staging space to complete the Main Streetscape project. 

With City Council approval, The City of Wheeling and the State of West Virginia’s DEP will finalize their agreements, and once completed, the work to remove the blighted Wheeling Inn can officially begin.


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