Shopping center looks to renovate

PARKERSBURG – Big plans are in the works for the Park Shopping Center.

Representatives from the cities Parkersburg and Vienna and the Wood County Commission gathered at the shopping center Tuesday to celebrate its contribution to the economic community and to honor owner Brad Glazer.

Ron Salter, president of Salter & Associates marketing firm, said the shopping center has been open for 56 years and hopes to see a revitalization in the coming years.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell called the opening of the shopping center in 1957 “a gamble,” noting at the time the city’s downtown business area was in its heyday.

“It survived the opening of the (Grand Central) mall in 1972 (in Vienna). It survived the West Virginia Blue Laws which made it impossible to sell almost anything,” Newell said.

The Blue Laws limited the sale of merchandise on Sunday.

Last year Parkersburg City Council set aside money for a new traffic light for the center, but Newell said the plan was delayed because the city is waiting on state officials to conduct a traffic study.

The plan was to remove part of a triangular island from in front of the entrance to the shopping center and to widen the road into the shopping plaza into three lanes.

The changes, coupled with the traffic light, would allow motorists exiting the shopping center to turn left onto Murdoch Avenue.

However, “the traffic study has not happened yet,” Salter said.

Salter called the situation a Catch 22, with potential tenants wanting to see movement on the traffic improvements before they would agree to move to the shopping center.

“They have to see people signing on the line,” he said. “The city supports this, the state said they want the traffic study. The question becomes who pays for it, and we think that is open to negotiation.”

Glazer said he is in discussions with several possible tenants for the large, 110,000-square-foot building which sits at the back of the shopping center.

“I think ideally it would be one tenant at a very low rent,” Glazer said, adding it would be cost-prohibitive to make the large building hold several separate stores.

Glazer said while he cannot talk about specific businesses which have expressed interest in the building, he could say Giant Eagle, which was an early favorite for the city, was not one of them.

“It’s not for lack of interest; they just can only support so many stores at a time, so it really isn’t an option,” he said.

Glazer said the entire shopping center is due for a major renovation, with the last renovation project occurring in 1981.

“It is time for another major renovation,” he said. “We’re going to put a push on this thing. My main job is to get a business in that space, no matter what the cost.”