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Waldo eyed for senior housing

by Shawn Gainer

STAFF WRITER

A non-profit organization is involved in efforts to revitalize an area of Clarksburg, including the Waldo Hotel building.

Richard Wood, director of economic development for the Charleston real estate firm McCabe-Henley-Durbin, made a presentation at a Clarksburg City Council conference session Tuesday. Wood said after the session the Vandalia Foundation, which is receiving technical assistance from his firm, is planning a proposal for a $50,000 project to include West Pike Street, Glen Elk and the railroad depot at Baltimore Avenue.

The foundation, which was formed to promote economic and community development through utilizing historical structures, is planning a three-stage proposal in response to requests from the West Virginia Housing Development Fund, Wood said.

"The first element is an integrated design plan. The second element is a market analysis to determine the potential for elderly housing and urban housing," Wood said. "We'll be looking at the Waldo's potential for residential use and residential development in Glen Elk. The third element is coming up with a strategic action plan with identifiable goals."

The foundation has not made a decision on the Waldo yet, but residential use is a possibility, he said.

"There already appears to be an awful lot of office space available in downtown Clarksburg, so office space might not be a viable use," he said.

"We think there is a lot of potential for an urban showcase there, and a good place to live for people who want to be close to downtown stores and restaurants. It could be the start of major development in the area.

"It's really a diamond in the rough," he said. "We just need to polish it and get it going."

While she noted it is a long-term project that is still in the planning stages, council member Becky Lake said it could be a huge boost to the community, if put into action.

"If you would take the Waldo by itself and renovate it, that would be a great asset for the community," Lake said. "Housing for senior citizens might fill a need in the community and they might be able to get more funding sources for that use. What I would really like to see is economic development that would encourage our young people to stay."

Staff Writer Shawn Gainer can be reached at 626-1442 or by e-mail at sgainer@exponent-telegram.com.

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