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[Parkersburg] Random development news

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Construction on Avery Street Project to begin

By WAYNE TOWNER, Parkersburg News and Sentinel, June 16, 2007

Location of the project

After three years of planning, the Avery Court project began June 17. It is located on Avery Street between 11th and Cornwall Streets, and will include 76 market-rate one-, two-, and three-bedroom townhouses and condominiums. Initial construction includes the installation of new utilities; site work will consist of grading, paving, and the construction of retaining walls, steps, and concrete walks. That will take 90 days. Construction will also begin on the construction of some model homes to show what they will resemble when all of the units are complete. The units are aimed at active seniors, empty nesters, and young professionals who want a downtown living environment. It will feature a health club, pool, meeting and recreation areas, and a 'maintenance-free' lifestyle.

Financing on the residential development is coming from the Avery Court Redevelopment District that was created in August 2005. It is also the first city of Parkersburg Tax Increment Financing project.

The project stems from its initial approval by the Parkersburg Municipal Planning Commission in April 2004. Ground was broken in November 2005, but changes had to be made after the Parkersburg Fire Department expressed concerns that it could not fit its largest fire trucks in the areas. As a result, the original design of 83 duplex units and a large 50-unit building in the rear was scrapped for two 24-unit facilities.

It will take two to three years to complete the development. It is hoped that the project will spur further restoration and development projects in the downtown area.

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Denied grant could spell ruin for historic home

By Jody Murphy, Parkersburg News and Sentinel, July 12, 2007

A state grant was denied on June 29 for funding towards a roof project on the home of former West Virginia Governor William Stevenson, the third governor of the state. Several months ago, the city applied for a grant of $25,000 to help repair a severely damaged turret on the former home. Currently, it has only half the funding it needs; the grant would have matched it and would have been sufficient for the repair. The holes are covered by a large blue tarp.

The city will look for other means to finance the project and further protect the house from more damage, but the cost to repair and restore the entire roof would cost around $400,000. The roof is just one part of a major restoration project envisioned for the house.

The dilapidated house is one of the remaining standing homes of a West Virginia former governor.

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Mollohan secures Riverfront Park funds

By Jody Murphy, Parkersburg News and Sentinel, July 19, 2007

A congressional spending measure passed Tuesday in the House that includes a million dollars for the Army Corps of Engineers to continue work on the city's Riverfront Park project. Although there was money to finish the project's engineering and design, the Corps never had authorized funding for construction. The project is a 50-50 match project between the city and the Corps, where each side is expected to come up with about $5 million. The park is slated to include a riverboat landing, a plaza overlooking the Ohio and Little Kanawha rivers, a seating area, a picnic area with restrooms, a fishing pier, and walking trails.

The money will become available in October, pending Senate approval, and then the project will go out to bid. Construction could begin by the end of 2007.

The city still has a pending Section 108 loa for $2.1 million of the park project. The loan is a commitment against the city's Community Development Block Grant money. If the loan is approved, the city will pay back $185,000 for the next twenty years out of its annual grant. The loan is currently in the hands of a Housing and Urban Development office in Washington D.C., and that the loan has received "favorable reviews." The loan, in conjunction with a $3 million grant from the state's Economic Development Authority, will allow the city to meet its 50% obligation on the project.

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Riverfront park a piece of revitalizing downtown

By Jody Murphy, Parkersburg News and Sentinel, September 2, 2007

A proposed riverfront park in Parkersburg could have a large impact on the future development of the downtown in Parkersburg. Studies done by the U.S. Army Corps of engineers say that the new riverfront park's traffic will quadruple, increasing from 50-100 users today to 250-500 users during peak times. One study, conducted in 1996 when the idea of a riverfront park was proposed, says that the park's daily average of users will jump from 75 to 375.

Point Park is a public day-use recreation facility built in 1981 between the river and the floodwall by the Corps. It is operated and maintained by the city of Parkersburg. The existing park features a boat landing, a plaza, picnic tables and benches, lights and a parking area. It also serves as a landing point for the Blennerhassett Island Historic State Park tour boats.

Once the $10 million expansion is completed, the park will also include a riverboat landing, a plaza overlooking the Ohio and Little Kanawha rivers, a seating area, a picnic area with restrooms, a fishing pier and a walking trail. The park will also house events like the Taste of Parkersburg and the Parkersburg Homecoming Festival.

The city is hoping that the development of the park will lead to an open-air market, similar to seven-day-a-week Charleston's Capitol Market. The Capitol Market features a farmers market, fresh fruits and vegetable vendors, fish and meat markets, wine shops, and a restaurant.

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Officials focusing on downtown Parkersburg

By Jody Murphy, Parkersburg News and Sentinel, September 9, 2007

Downtown Parkersburg once was rife with vacant storefronts and blocks of demolished buildings. But business expansion and redevelopment has spurred a resurgence. The construction of the city's riverfront park will boost tourism and promote the waterfront, and soon, new housing will help complete the regeneration of the city's downtown area.

The city's riverfront park plans are the latest designs in a scheme to revitalize the downtown. Elsewhere, the Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital was recently expanded. The new Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield building has been proposed, along with the new Federal Government Public Debt building, and several residential areas.

The new Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield building will be located at Seventh and Market Streets, adjacent to the company's current headquarters. It will more than double the space of the current building's 57,000 sq. ft., and house 760 employees. It will include training and conference rooms, an in-house printing facility, a data center and a walk-in customer service center. It will also feature a public corner plaza that will have decorative paving, landscaping, outdoor seating and a fountain; the plaza could also house a restaurant or retail center. The former building, once a Union Trust Bank dating to 1903, will remain standing. It could be converted into upscale condominiums and retail.

Housing projects include Avery Courts and several more that are planned. Other renovations and expansions in the downtown area include the YMCA building, the Actors Guild Playhouse, the Parkersburg Art Center and the Smoot Theatre.

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