Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


April 17, 2014

Coming down: Princeton demolitions continue

— — When it comes to the removal of condemned and blighted structures, the city of Princeton continues to make welcomed progress. And the work is expected to continue this spring and summer.

Since its inception in 1993, the city’s demolition program has resulted in 523 dilapidated buildings being torn down, council member Dewey Russell said Monday. And recent structural demolitions have been completed along Stafford Drive, Lincoln Street, Beckley Road, 5th Street, Ritter Street and High Street.

A number of the demolitions have occurred in the downtown area along Mercer Street. But not all of the blighted structures are actually being torn down. Some are being resurrected for future growth. A good example is the former Lavon Theater at 843 Mercer Street. It is being restored and was recently christened as the new the Renaissance Theater.

The work being done at the old Lavon Theater site is not unusual, according to city code enforcement officer Bill Buzzo. He correctly notes that a building condemnation does not automatically mean a structure will be demolished, but can instead lead to the repair or restoration of an old structure into something new and exciting. Such is the case on Mercer Street. And the ongoing work at the new Renaissance Theater site is key to the overall downtown revitalization project.

Similar demolition projects also are continuing in the city of Bluefield. But not only are structures being torn down in Bluefield, new residential dwellings also are being constructed in some locations. A good example is the ongoing CASE housing project along Highland Avenue in Bluefield, which is providing a welcomed facelift for the entire community. The CASE project also is helpful in that it is providing a positive new first impression for visitors to the city from the U.S. Route 52 Easley Bridge.

Both municipalities are to be applauded for this aggressive demolition schedule.

With spring here and summer not far away, the demolition process must continue for both cities. The work is important for a number of reasons.

Left unattended, these abandoned and condemned structures become eyesores that subtract value from surrounding properties. The structures also can become havens for vermin, wild animals and drug dealers, and a hazard for neighborhood children. And blighted and condemned structures also can detract from economic development efforts in an area, as well as new home construction.

That’s why these ongoing efforts are literally cleaning up neighborhoods, advancing economic development and helping to enhance the region’s quality of life. We look forward to seeing more demolition work this spring and summer in both Princeton and Bluefield.


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