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Public presentation to unveil Wheeling Gateway Project survey results

WHEELING — Feedback from over 4,000 respondents regarding the Wheeling Gateway Project will be unveiled by the Wheeling-Ohio County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The event held Wednesday at the Capitol Theatre from 5:30-7:30 p.m. will allow attendees to offer additional feedback through live polling and hear the latest announcements for the project.

“This is going to be a visual presentation where we present what we’ve done so far and where we are today progress-wise for the Wheeling Gateway Center,” explained Wheeling-Ohio County Convention Visitors Bureau Executive Director Frank O’Brien. “It will be a pretty good source of information if you want to know what’s going on, what direction we’re headed and how you can help us get to the result.”

The Wheeling Gateway survey was launched in December with the goal of collecting community input for design concepts for the visitor center that will replace the Wheeling Inn once the building is demolished.

The Wheeling Gateway Center website collects written responses and photo submissions for project ideas from participants. With more than 100,000 unique interactions to the website, the survey has been one of Wheeling’s “most extensive community engagement campaigns in recent history,” according to O’Brien.

O’Brien emphasized that public engagement has always been a “key component” to creating the Gateway Center. While receiving community input online was one way to engage the public, O’Brien explained sharing the data collected with the general public at the event will also accomplish this goal.

“This will be an opportunity to share the data with not only some of our stakeholders but also the general public members who have been following the project on Facebook and other online spaces,” said O’Brien. “They also want to see the results.”

At Wednesday night’s presentation, Tipping Point, the developer for the project, will present a “deep dive” into the recurring themes of what respondents desire for the center, according to company President Jim Ambrose.

Ambrose will provide insights and ideas to attendees on how these themes can be translated into “spaces and experiences” for the site that Tipping Point will design.

Further public feedback will be collected at the event as well.

The presentation will include live cell phone polling, and hard copies of the online survey will be available for participants to fill out.

“We’re going to use all of the information from the survey, the photos and what people say live in person through the polling to inform the design of the site,” explained Ambrose. “It will be a truly community-driven development.”

Apart from sharing the survey results, the environmental remediation, demolition bidding process and timeline for the razing of the Wheeling Inn will be revealed at the presentation.

“Even though everybody wants the Wheeling Inn demolished as quickly as possible, there’s a significant amount of data that you need to collect and engineering analysis you need to do to figure out how to take it down properly,” noted O’Brien. “There’s been a lot of planning amongst a lot of licensed professionals to be able to take it down, so we’ll share the highlights of what we’ve done and what we’ll be doing next.”

The event will also include announcements of financing opportunities for the project.

“It’s going to be a pretty eventful meeting,” summarized O’Brien. “I would urge people to come and see what we’ve been up to for the last year, but more importantly, to have your voice heard as to what you think should be there and how we should go about getting it done.”

Ambrose added he was excited to take the next step in the project of “maximizing all these ideas” into a development plan that will fit the project “both financially and from a construction perspective.”

“I feel like it’ll be fun for people to see what the greater population is saying about the project,” said Ambrose. “I can’t remember when there is this much engagement with a development in Wheeling.”

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