Wheeling, W.Va. — Rehabilitation work on the historic Fort Henry Building in downtown Wheeling is progressing and it is hoped that it will be fully occupied by the end of the year.
Officials from McKinley Architecture and Engineering, owner of the former Fort Henry Club building, rehabilitated the first, third and fourth floors. A first series of renovations in the building was completed in 2015 with the second floor. The building has been owned by the company for 10 years.
David H. McKinley, chairman of the company’s board, told MetroNews that the building needed to be demolished and officials didn’t want that to happen.
“It’s a prominent structure downtown, at the corner of 14th and Chapline streets. A lot of history, a lot of important things have happened. People have walked in, met or even stayed in this building,” McKinley said.
After completing an $8 million investment to update the structure scheduled for December, the building will house several professional offices.
The rehabilitation project began six years ago with current tenant State of WV Division of Rehabilitation Services, according to a statement. McKinley said McKinley Architecture and Engineering was planned to move to the fourth floor for a design studio and offices. He added that local law firm Steptoe & Johnson has signed on to be the anchor tenant for the 36,000 square foot building.
“It’s great to see more private investment in the City of Wheeling,” Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott previously said. “McKinley Architecture and Engineering has particular expertise in the areas of historic rehabilitation and adaptive reuse, and Wheeling is a city loaded with such opportunities. Historic preservation can be difficult and expensive, but if done well, the results can truly improve a city’s authentic sense of place and economic viability.
A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan guarantee of $5.2 million was recently announced for the project. McKinley said they worked through Main Street Bank and the USDA loan guarantee makes the loan more attractive to banks lending us money to finance the project. The loan is designed to encourage investment in rural areas and secure lending and attractive to banks, he said.
“There’s a lot of money being spent there right now. It’s an exciting investment, but we’re confident it will pay off for years to come,” McKinley said.
Renovations must adhere to the US Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines for historic preservation and restoration, a statement said. The West Virginia State Office of Historic Preservation has been the driving force behind the building’s rehabilitation with advice, expertise, and grants for the building.
The building still has 3700 square feet of rental space. For more information, please contact Lori Payne, CAO, Willow Glen Capital at (304) 281-6746 or [email protected]