The Times West Virginian

In Today's TWV

August 17, 2008

Goal: Redevelop site of former black Elks

Fairmont hopes to recoup $72,000 demolition cost

FAIRMONT — City officials are hoping to solicit a buyer to redevelop the former site of the former black Elks building at the corner of Everest Drive and Cleveland Avenue.

Following the structure’s emergency demolition last weekend, city manager Jim Snider said the city is hoping someone will come forward to develop the site and recoup the city’s $72,000 demolition cost.

“We have had some interest in it,” Snider said. “We will probably send out a request for proposal for someone to develop the site and see what kind of response we get on that.”

In mid-July, a section of the parapet wall atop the waning building, which at the time was owned by the Fairmont Renaissance Corp. (FRC), came crashing down into the street, creating a public safety issue in the area. The city was then forced to take over ownership of the building so the situation could be addressed.

Despite requests to save the early 20th-century, cut-sandstone-and-brick facade for historic purposes, officials were ultimately forced to tear the structure down.

On July 25, city planner Jay Rogers said the FRC officially signed the deed of the building over to the city. Snider said this transaction was completed without any payment from either party, and the FRC did not provide any compensation toward the demolition.

Rogers said this is because the organization did not have the funds to do it. Snider said the FRC no longer has any ties to the property.

The Vandalia Heritage Foundation (VHF) and the FRC were initially working together to accomplish preservation projects in the downtown historic district where the building is located. In 2002, the building was donated to the FRC, but a lack of funding to restore the structure stood in the way of preservation efforts.

The FRC is an existing community and economic group that Vandalia helped the city to establish. Members include president Gerry Schmidt, Bruce McDaniel, Diane Floyd, Fran Whiteman, Nick Fantasia, Rich Wood and Sharon Shaffer. The VHF is a regional nonprofit devoted to community and economic development and historical preservation.

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