Wheeling Inn Demolition, Environmental Mediation Bids Unsealed

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Bids ranging from just over $400,000 to just under $1 million have been offered for the job of demolition and environmental remediation of the former Wheeling Inn. Yet, dollar signs aren’t the only factors that will come into play in the decision, which likely will come after the Easter holiday.

The former hotel’s demolition ultimately will make way for a new Gateway Center, which will be built on those grounds as a welcome site into downtown Wheeling. The budget for the entire project is estimated between $13-$16 million.

Part of that budget is demolition and environmental remediation. Tipping Point, the development company overseeing the project, announced on its website that five companies submitted bids:

– Edgco Inc., $409,000

– Raze International, $499,800

– Reclaim Company, $638,988

– Aster Hardwoods, $795,000

– F. R. Beinke Wrecking, $988,000

In order to qualify to bid, prospective companies had to attend a March 7 site tour to evaluate the existing conditions of the property and the remediation and demolition plan created by the architects and engineers on the project.

Cost is a factor, but not the sole one, said Frank O’Brien, Executive Director of the Wheeling Convention and Visitors Bureau. The CVB bought the former Wheeling Inn for $1.7 million in January 2023. There are plenty of factors, he said, that are just as important.

“We’re going to look at the proposals in detail and whether or not they considered some of the things we put out there, i.e., the Suspension Bridge and how close it is to the building, also the asbestos issue and how they’re going to mitigate the asbestos,” he said.

“The bids that meet all of those conditions, we’ll talk to those contractors and make sure we’re all on the same page,” O’Brien added.

The Suspension Bridge has been a major consideration of the project since the beginning. Those connected to the Gateway Center project want the new building to accentuate the significance of the bridge, which was at one time the world’s largest suspension bridge and completed in 1849. They also want to project the bridge, which has undergone a nearly $18 million rehabilitation, though its future as a vehicle bridge remains in limbo.

O’Brien said the project leaders will take the next week to look over the bids to see which company best meets all the criteria set forth. He sees a decision being made shortly after the Easter holiday.

All involved want to make sure that every step of the process is done in the best way possible, leading to a welcome center that both visitors and locals will appreciate, said Tipping Point President Jim Ambrose.

“The public officials leading this project are dedicated to creating a memorable experience that is accessible to multiple generations,” Ambrose said. “It is very clear that the community’s top priorities are to remove the blight of the Wheeling Inn, maximize access to the historic suspension bridge, the Wheeling Heritage Trail, the visitors’ experience and integrate the rich history of the area into the future building. We’re planning to provide progress and updates through the same website where the engagement platform was hosted.”

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