By Lee Chottiner
Glenn Elliott has pledged to make historic preservation a high priority if he is elected Mayor of Wheeling next year.
“I think that goes without saying,” Elliott said Tuesday while speaking on historic preservation at the Ohio County Public Library’s Lunch with Books program. “I think Wheeling would be crazy not to make that a high priority.”
He was responding to a question by Jeanne Finstein, president of Friends of Wheeling, who lamented how frustrating it has been to promote preservation of the city’s historic buildings.
Elliott, who announced his candidacy for mayor earlier this month, is a Wheeling attorney and owner of the historic Professional Building on Market Street.
He used his talk Tuesday — titled “Rebuilding Wheeling” — to highlight the vacancy rate across town. He said vacant buildings yield no revenue for the city, pose fire hazards, depress property values and deflate the morale of city residents who live among the empty structures.
But he cited studies that show regions supporting historic preservation in their cities get more “bang” for their development dollar than they do when opting for new development beyond the corporate limits.
Elliott, who lives on the second floor of the Professional Building, said he already has the first floor rented and has plans to restore the rest of the circa 19th century skyscraper.
He also noted other examples of older buildings in Wheeling getting new leases on life: Stone & Thomas, the Maxwell Centre and the Fort Henry Club. The more historic buildings bought, restored and occupied, he said, the easier it is to generate interest in historic preservation
But Finstein called Elliott’s 2013 purchase of the Professional Building, which was built in the 1890s with 600 tons of Maine granite and supports what is believed to be the tallest existing turret in the world, a “tipping point” in Wheeling’s historic preservation.
Elliott announced his candidacy for mayor in the 2016 election on May 10 at the Wheeling Brewing Co. in Centre Market. He is running on a progressive slate with three city council candidates: Chad Thalman (First Ward), Jeremy Morris (Second Ward) and Wendy Scatterday (Fourth Ward).
Check back at Dateline: Wheeling for an exclusive interview with Elliott.