It’s hard to turn a corner in Downtown Wheeling without coming across a new redevelopment project. Whether it’s a new coffee shop popping up on Main Street or the very visible ongoing streetscaping project, it’s exciting to see these projects taking shape right before our eyes.
One such project that’s been in the works since 2018 is the Schmulbach Building, also known as the Wheeling-Pitt Building. Located at 1134 Market Street, Schmulbach’s building was the tallest in Wheeling when it was completed in 1907 and it still is today! What’s also unique about this building is that it’s shaped like an “H,” which is believed to be an ode to its creator,Henry Schmulbach. You can learn more about Schmulbach’s legacy here.
In the 1940s, the building was purchased by Wheeling Steel, which later merged to become Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel. When Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel halted its operations back in 2013, the building was immediately vacated, creating a time capsule of sorts. The building has sat vacant ever since – that is until recently when it was announced that Coon Restoration would be restoring the building to its former glory.
Dan Blend, Vice President of Operations for Coon Restoration recently gave the Weelunk team a look behind the scenes of this iconic building. The project is expected to be completed in December 2022 and will include over 100 apartment units, as well as retail units on the street level along Market Street.
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Historic buildings such as the Schmulbach Building are irreplaceable, but making a large-scale redevelopment project financially feasible can be challenging. Projects like this would not be possible without robust historic preservation incentives. Most importantly are the federal and state historic tax credits. The federal historic tax credit is 20% and the state is 25% – this means a project that has $100,000 in qualified expenses, would be eligible for up to $45,000 in tax credits. Financing these projects can be complicated, but utilizing all of the available incentives is essential to its success.
Aside from utilizing historic tax credits, strong partnerships and investors also help bolster historic restoration projects. In some cases, local organizations like RED or Wheeling Heritage assist in pre-development work, which helps coordinate the necessary pieces to bring a project out of the concept phase and into reality. In other cases, public-private partnerships, like that between Coon Restoration and the City of Wheeling, are made to ensure that a major investment has all of the necessary resources available, such as parking, infrastructure and community buy-in.
We’re excited to see this project continue to take shape. For now, you can check out this behind-the-scenes video of the plans and progress being made at 1134 Market Street.
• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise four cats and four spunky backyard chickens.