Bridgeport blaze may spawn development

BRIDGEPORT – Michael Shaheen has deep feelings for what happened in a downtown village apartment building that caught fire and killed three young children some five months ago.

“My father was born in the building that was closest to the village building,” Shaheen, a St. Clairsville-based attorney, explained. “My grandfather and my dad have owned a portion of all three of those buildings for the last 50-plus years.

“When they didn’t the George family did, but they sold them back to us. I grew up going down there with my dad. It was just gut-wrenching what happened … what transpired., so I want to do something good down there.”

Shaheen said his first choice for development, if he can get the right people in place and the right funding, would be a mixed-use building in the lower level.

“Maybe something like a little restaurant, coffee shop or grocery store on the ground floor,” he offered. “Then there would be a couple of stories of apartments above it.”

He stressed that the apartments would not be subsidized housing, but they wouldn’t be $1,200-a-month condos either.

“It would not be section 8 or just for seniors,” he noted. “What I would like to do is bring in some clean, good, reasonably priced housing to that area.”

He said the location is prime for business traffic.

“You’ve got people on the Island. You’ve got people getting on and off Ohio 7 going up and down the river or to St. Clairsville and beyond,” he added.

“With all the interest in the oil and gas industry right now, I think it’s a good idea because I feel there’s a shortage of good, clean apartments.”

He gave no timetable for the proposed project.

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