City of Beckley pushes to buy building uptown

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — The City of Beckley is looking to take advantage of the amount of empty buildings in uptown Beckley.

A staple of Neville Street and uptown Beckley, the building was once home to several businesses over the decades; some with historical significance to the area, and most recently, Zen’s Café. The building went up for sale four years ago after operating for a year as the café. Now, city leaders want to purchase the building as well as the parking lot across the street.

The properties are valued at a little over $1 million. Some community members are concerned about where the money is coming from, but Mayor Rob Rappold said the project does not require additional funding.

“This project alone, we can finance out of the general fund and move on. People would be amazed with what we can do financially,” Mayor Rappold said.

But there are others, like Danielle Stewart, who believe that money could be better spent somewhere else.

“I could go on and on. We could talk sidewalks, we could talk road pavings. There are so many different things we could to do better,” Stewart said.

If purchased, city officials plan to lease out the property to a West Virginia based coffee and pastry shop that helps those who were fighting addiction and substance-abuse get back on their feet.

With other properties in the city for sale or abandoned, Mayor Rappold said this idea is about taking immediate action to improve and maintain downtown Beckley.

“This is a chance for the city to say ‘hey we are going to prove’ not only to the new businesses, but to any potential leases that the city is serious about this,'” Mayor Rappold said.

Mayor Rappold also mentioned the work the city did to help build the new police and fire departments, as well as a municipal court building and I.T. department.

Stewart said she is not against working to revitalize the uptown area, she just wants a chance for the community to speak their mind.

“I could be wrong, and this could be the best idea ever, but because there is no transparency, there is no conversation, there is no time to have conversation about it. No one really knows,” Stewart said.

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