Future of The Health Plan’s St. C. office uncertain

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — While Wheeling buzzes with anticipation of having about 460 employees of The Health Plan working downtown by the end of the year, the destiny of the company’s current St. Clairsville headquarters remains uncertain.

“They will be for sale at the appropriate time,” James Pennington, president and CEO of The Health Plan, said of the two structures the company now uses at the site, east of the Ohio Valley Mall near St. Clairsville.

“We don’t want to be rushed to move out. We want to stage our move at our discretion, not someone else’s,” he added.

Construction continues at the health insurance provider’s new headquarters, which will be a four-story, 53,000 square foot building in the 1100 block of Main and Market streets in downtown Wheeling. This zone, including the large G.C. Murphy and Rite Aid buildings, fell into disrepair after years of businesses leaving the downtown.

Pennington said between 75 and 80 employees of The Health Plan are already working in downtown Wheeling in the former Horne’s department store building at the corner of 11th and Main streets. Approximately 385 additional employees will move from St. Clairsville to Wheeling once the giant new building is complete.

This means there will be an entirely new group of working people in downtown Wheeling during the daytime hours through the week. Many believe this will help generate other business in the downtown area, as many of these workers will be looking to eat breakfast or lunch during the day, or even for a spot to do some shopping while on break.

“Some of them will come in as early as early as 6 a.m. Some will be there as late as 8 p.m. to cover West Coast business,” Pennington said.

Meanwhile, Pennington said The Health Plan’s St. Clairsville site encompasses 10 acres. The larger original building is at the top of the hill when entering the campus from National Road, while a newer secondary structure is down a slope to the left. Pennington was not sure of the exact square footage of the two buildings.

“I think it is suited for any type of tenant. It has easy access to and from Interstate 70,” Pennington said. “The buildings will be sold — the only question is to who.”

As Kmart and Elder-Beerman leave the Ohio Valley Mall, Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas knows the county does not need more large-structure vacancies.

“They won’t be vacant for long,” Thomas said of The Health Plan structures. “They are two excellent buildings.”

Although Thomas said he would like to see The Health Plan keep its headquarters in the county, he wishes them well.

“They have been a great business for Belmont County for many years,” he added.

COMMENTS