Update: Two historic downtown buildings likely to meet wrecking ball

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Requests to stop the planned demolition of two historic buildings in downtown Parkersburg fail.

The Parkersburg Board of Zoning Appeals made the decision at its meeting Wednesday night. Chairman Greg Boso says the unanimous vote to reject saving the Citizens National Bank and the Mather Building was bittersweet. The two buildings that are right next to each other were built in the 19th century. That makes them over 120 years old.

The board's reasoning is it's too costly to renovate them. The bank building had been on the market for 10 years with no real interest.

Parkersburg's Business District Design and Facade Committee voted in April to allow the demolition.

No word yet when the tear-down would start.

2/27/2018 3:40 P.M.

A local historian hopes to meet with Parkersburg leaders to develop a preservation plan for the city's historic buildings.

That's in the wake of a city board's decision to demolish the old Citizens Bank building-and an adjacent structure-at Fourth and Market Streets in Downtown Parkersburg.

Wood County Historical and Preservation Society President Bob Enoch believes local civic and development groups need to work together to find tenants for the vacant buildings.

He admits, however, it's not a problem with the Citizens building alone.

"These multi-story buildings, even if they have an elevator, are, for whatever reason, not being utilized," Enoch says. "And the Citizens Bank building being 5-7 stories, it's just a daunting task to find tenants for such a place."

The Citizen's building's owner, Robert Shaffer, requested the demolition, saying he could not find occupants for or sell the structure.

But while Enoch commends efforts to halt it, he adds they're probably too late to save the structure.

2/14/2018 6:00 P.M.

The owner of the more than 120-year old structure made a sometimes emotional plea to the building improvement and façade committee Wednesday, explaining why demolishing it is in his-if not the city's-best interests.

"Because it's such a big building, there has to be a continuous plan of updates and maintenance," said building owner Robert Shaffer. "I cannot undo 50 years of people doing nothing with the building."

But historical advocates argue it would be one more example of a structure torn down, potentially with nothing but a parking lot-if that-replacing it.

"There are partnerships, there are non-profits," said Justin Roedershimer, who circulated petition opposing demolition. "There is a statewide non-profit, there are other creative solutions we can come up with to help move this preservaton effort forward."

Committee member and Parkersburg councilman J.R. Carpenter made a motion to open the meeting to a public discussion on the issue. It died for lack of a second.

"It is a shame to have a public meeting," said Bob Enoch, President, Wood County Historical Society, "and not give the public a chance to comment. It's crazy."

Shaffer said the structure has mostly been vacant in the 17 years since he's owned it, and insisted he's tried to save it, with little success.

"If an investor so decided to incur this investment," said Wayne Waldeck, Commission member, "where would they find the tenants to occupy the building?"

The structure is the second targeted for demolition at that location in recent months.

2/14/2018 12:00 P.M.

Parkersburg's Business District Design and Facade Committee votes to allow the demolition of the former Citizens Bank Building at 4th and Market Street.

It was told by the building's owner, Robert Shaffer, the structure needs millions of dollars to be restored-more than he can afford-and has not attracted enough tenants in recent years to keep it going.

Another historic building in downtown Parkersburg may soon have a meeting with the wrecking ball.

It is officially known as the Citizens Bank Building at 4th and Market Streets, across the corner from the Hotel Blennerhassett and the Donald F. Black Annex.

An item before the Parkersburg Business District Design and Façade Committee's bi-monthly meeting Wednesday February 14, calls for demolition of the structure.

A For Sale sign on the building lists its selling price at $169,000.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Partly for that reason, an online petition opposes the demolition.

Except for an occasional short-lived business, the building has been mostly vacant for years.

The façade committee meets next Wednesday at 9 A.M. at the Parkersburg City Building.

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