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WVNCC to start remodeling Wheeling buildings to expand educational programs

By Philip Stahl

Remodeling is expected to begin this month at two buildings that West Virginia Northern Community College bought in Wheeling last year.

In about a week, the college will start fixing up the old Straub Honda & Hyundai buildings in downtown Wheeling. The buildings have been vacant since the Straub Automotive Group moved its car lots to the Highlands in Ohio County more than a year ago.

The college plans to use the buildings to expand educational programs, but the $4.8 million project is expected to take some time.

On May 14 contractors will move equipment on to the site and get set up, said Steve Lippello, chief financial officer and vice president of administrative services. The following week, crews are expected to start some demolition work to get the project started.

Lippello said not only will the entire inside be gutted, but the outside is going to look brand new.

"One of the things that we have spent a great deal of time on is making sure that the outside facade blends in nicely with the existing B&O Building and Independence Hall," Lippello said.

In addition, new sidewalks, fresh pavement and new lighting will add to the buildings’ exterior features. Across the street, a Barnes & Noble bookstore will be open to the public.

"We are actually establishing a new retailer in the city of Wheeling that all residents can take advantage of," he said.

With construction crews on their way to the area, Lippello said the entire street corner will be transformed in about a year.

"People can see that when dollars come to the college, we put good use to them and these are two projects that are going to benefit students and the community," he said.

The old Honda building is expected to be complete by spring of 2013. As far as the Hyundai building goes, the college has one final meeting in June with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission before getting the green light to remodel.