Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

July 9, 2013

Neighborhood facelift — Highland Avenue construction welcomed

First impressions are of vital importance. And for out-of-town motorists entering the city limits of Bluefield from Easley Bridge on U.S. Route 52, the Highland Avenue neighborhood is their first impression of the city.

In recent years, the neighborhood did not provide a positive first impression, as several abandoned residential dwellings had fallen into a state of disrepair. But those structures have since been demolished, and a new residential construction project is now well underway.

Crews are now erecting the walls on six of the eight residential dwellings planned near the intersection of Highland Avenue and Cherry Street. The project is being undertaken by Community Action of South Eastern West Virginia. The work also involves the rehabilitation of a gutted brick house as well as the construction of a brand new single-family home in the lot near the intersection.

“We are hoping to start construction on the last house right on the corner in a few weeks,” Mary Turner, development director with CASE, said last week. “That will be a single-family home we are putting up for sale. The rest of the properties will be rentals. We are also doing construction on the rehab of the brick house, which was gutted. When that is finished, there will be a two-bedroom unit downstairs and a one-bedroom unit upstairs.”

CASE is already receiving applications from prospective tenants for the new residential units.

Turner correctly notes that the construction project is already making a difference in the neighborhood. The community is not only expressing support for the neighborhood facelift, but other property owners are taking note by working to spruce up their own yards. And the city is working to maintain sidewalks, and make other related improvements in the area.

Modern housing units, including the new single-family homes planned for Highland Avenue, are needed in the city. And although it is not a part of the current construction project, new lodging facilities also are needed in the Bluefield area to cater to the out-of-state visitors who are traveling through the region to ride the Hatfield-McCoy Trails in Bramwell and Ashland. The ATV riders are already passing through Bluefield on their way to Bramwell — so it only makes sense to accommodate their lodging needs.

In the meantime, the Highland Avenue project meets a critical need. We welcome the construction project, and believe it will make a big difference to the overall appearance of Highland Avenue. The new housing projects should help ensure positive first impressions for visitors to the city while also meeting a regional housing need.

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