Randy Yohe Published

Wheeling Streetscape Project May Offer Small Business Financial Relief Plan 

Construction machinery crowds a busy street in a city's central business district with orange cones blocking off a trench between the street and the sidewalk.
Wheeling's downtown is getting a $32 million overhaul, in part from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Curtis Tate/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The $32 million, two-year streetscape project now underway includes total rebuilds of busy Main and Market streets along with new infrastructure and landscaping throughout downtown Wheeling. 

With limited customer access for dozens of shops and restaurants, Wheeling City Council will vote on a relief plan that offers qualified businesses credits against their Business and Occupation (B & O) taxes and up to $10,000 in financial aid.     

Chef Matt Welsch owns the Vagabond Kitchen located in the thick of the construction. He said the financial help is appreciated for a project that’s long overdue.

“It’s been pushed off and pushed off because it’s a state route,” Welsch said. “It’s going to be absolutely wonderful when it’s done. I just hope it’s not a beautiful ghost town.”

The plan is officially called the “Downtown Streetscape Project to provide small retail business B & O tax credits and monetary relief of up to $10,000 for lost revenue of Small Retail Businesses.” Council has set aside $300,000 to fund the project. 

Welsch said as the project got past the beginning stages, “there was a whole lot of hoping for the best and not really knowing how to plan for the worst.” 

“There’s sporadic outbreaks of construction throughout downtown,” Welsch said. “There’s been poor communication from the construction company, with city council and with the businesses, so we really never know what’s going to happen. At the end of the day, it’s still just a minor inconvenience for folks to come down and support us.”

A Dec. 6 project update from the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) noted that, to date, crews have removed existing sidewalks and replaced them with proposed sidewalks including some of the new streetscape features along the west side of Main Street. The release said drainage structure work continues throughout the downtown area. 

The release said remaining work to be performed includes sidewalk replacement along the remaining east side of Main Street, both sides of 16th Street, 10th Street, Market Street, as well as a couple short segments of Chapline and Eoff Street. 

Also yet to be done, remaining streetscape activities (trees, shrubs, etc.); work associated with removal of existing and replacing with new traffic signals; and milling and paving of all streets included in the project.

Wheeling City Council will vote on the streetscape relief plan Jan. 2, 2024.