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City closes Center Wheeling Parking Garage over structural concerns | News, Sports, Jobs

City closes Center Wheeling Parking Garage over structural concerns | News, Sports, Jobs

File Photo – Center Wheeling Parking Garage

WHEELING — Cracks in the concrete of the Center Market Parking Garage’s top floor led to Wheeling officials taking action Friday to temporarily close the structure pending a structural review by engineers.

The city has been planning for renovations to the parking structure that serves the busy Centre Market area and had once served the Ohio Valley Medical Center campus when it was in operation. In light of issues within the garage, the city had limited its use prior to its closure on Friday after an inspection prompted the action.

“For the past 18 months, parking has been restricted to the first floor (from the Chapline Street entrance) and basement or ground level (from Market Street),” City Manager Robert Herron explained on Friday. “Cracks developed this week on the top floor. We believe this came as a result of a delivery for the police headquarters project.”

Work continues at the former Valley Professional Building on the OVMC campus, where renovations are taking place to house the new Wheeling Police Department headquarters. This site is adjacent to the Center Market Parking Garage. A new main headquarters of the Wheeling Fire Department is set to be constructed in East Wheeling, but until that project is completed more than a year from now, the fire department headquarters operates from a space in the lower level of the Center Market Parking Garage.

The city manager indicated Friday that the firefighters will remain in that location unless engineers deem it unsafe to do so.

“We had our engineers come in today (Friday) and review the cracks, and they suggested a temporary closure of the parking part to vehicular and pedestrian traffic until a more thorough review could be completed,” Herron said. “A total of 36 cars were using the structure on a daily basis, with most being firefighters. They will be relocated to surface lots on the former OVMC campus. Once the review is done, a further course of action will be determined.”

Herron added that a complete engineering review of the Center Wheeling Parking Garage was completed in 2020.

The city has been working to put money in place to renovate the parking structure. Last November, Wheeling City Council held public hearings and passed legislation pertaining to bond ordinances for both the new parking structure being built at 11th and Market streets downtown and for the Center Wheeling Parking Garage. The bond ordinance for the Center Wheeling Parking Garage project was in an amount not to exceed $3 million.

City leaders noted that the tax increment financing or TIF district around the former Ohio Valley Medical Center property had previously generated money for future improvements at the Center Wheeling Parking Garage. However, the hospital has since closed, and since the property has been acquired by the city, the TIF district was no longer able to capture tax revenue as it did in the past.

However, council at its most recent meeting approved resolutions to merge the Downtown TIF District – which generates significant tax revenue for reinvestment – with the Center Wheeling TIF District.

“The Center Wheeling TIF District can now take advantage of the Downtown TIF District’s strong financial position,” Herron said.

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