'River to Rail' Program Aims to Clean Up Old Central City

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A new program is aimed at helping to breathe new life into the Old Central City Neighborhood.

It's called "River to Rail." It includes the area from 8th Street West to 17th Street West, and from north to south from Virginia Avenue to Van Buren Avenue. Geographically, those are the boundaries, but Huntington city leaders believe the potential for what this area could be knows no boundaries.

The goals include decreasing crime and boosting economic development.

On a bus tour Tuesday afternoon, city leaders, members of Huntington City Council, and the Huntington Police Department to U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. 3rd District, on a tour to show the progress that has been made and the work that needs to be done.

Federal funding would be key to some of the initiatives that business and homeowners would like to see.

That portion of Huntington only has 29 percent home ownership.

Ryan Bloss is one of them. The home in which she lives has been in her family for decades.

A "drug house" across the street had them considering a move. Police took care of that problem and now the house sits vacant and overgrown.

It is on the city's demolition list.

"There are so many memories here, and it is sad that you would have to leave because of something across the street," Bloss said.

In the Central City Antique District, business owner Jill LaFear says she made a conscious decision to put their business, "Ackenpucky," at 14th Street West. That business makes art and furniture out of things that would otherwise end up in the landfill at 14th Street West. The reason for the location -- interstate access.

But she told Rahall that something is missing.

"We need lights along the interstate here to really open up the area when you are driving through this area. It is not bright; it is not light," LaFear said.

The owners of Hattie and Nan's explained antique enthusiasts from all across the country come to this stretch.

They'd like to see the area become a destination. Their pitch is a hotel.

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