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posted: 9/17/2012 9:58 PM

Demolition of historic Wheeling building delayed

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A Milwaukee Avenue building won a reprieve from the wrecking ball Monday night when a Wheeling trustee pointed out its historical significance.

The village board postponed approval of a contract to demolish the village-owned brick building at 115 S. Milwaukee Ave. and possibly the privately owned building next door at 119 S. Milwaukee Ave.

The village is negotiating with the owner of the second building, said Village Manager Jon Sfondilis. The owner of 119 S. Milwaukee Ave. purchased it with the idea of partnering with the village to develop the two properties, he said. The village purchased 115 in 2006 with development in mind.

Trustee Bill Hein pointed out that the two-story brick building at 115 S. Milwaukee Ave. built in 1916 as a butcher shop was eventually owned by Hans Schmidt, a German immigrant who became village president in the 1940s.

Hein, who is vice president of the Wheeling Historical Society, said only two other original buildings still stand on Milwaukee Avenue.

"I have talked with people, and I have $45,000 in commitments for any type of preservation at its existing stage and location," he said.

However, the village purchased the building with tax increment financing funds, said Sfondilis. Village Attorney James Ferolo said he did not think a donation to the historic society would qualify as a legitimate use of the money, but he would research the issue. If the use is not eligible, the village would have to repay the purchase price to the TIF district fund, he said. That was more than $400,000, according to village officials.

The village board agreed to wait 60 days, which is how long the demolition bid is good. However, Trustee Dean Argiris told Hein he would have to come up with a preliminary plan for the building within 30 days.

Moving the building to Heritage Park would be a good solution, said Terry Steilen after the meeting. He volunteers with the historical society and supports development as a member of the village's plan commission.

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