WSAZ Investigates | Problem property torn down

WSAZ Investigates | Problem Property Torn Down
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:56 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Vacant properties have long been magnets for crime and a nuisance for neighbors.

But there is one less problem property in Huntington.

The former YWCA building in the 600 block of 5th Avenue was recently torn down.

In its former glory, the YWCA building served the community for decades.

It was closed in 2008.

Francis McGuire bought the property shortly after and had high hopes for the building. As the years went on, those dreams of bringing in a tenant and new life to the building were unsuccessful.

A WSAZ Investigation revealed the property had been the site of overdoses, a fire in 2019, and nearly 50 emergency calls since 2016.

WSAZ Investigates | Problem Properties

McGuire, the property owner, said he struggled to keep unwelcomed visitors out of the building.

In an interview with WSAZ reporter Kimberly Keagy in May 2022, McGuire told her, “We’ve done everything we can think of. We finally just started screwing boards into the doors and windows to keep the homeless out and keep them from destroying the property any further.”

Fast forward to September of 2022 and that building was bulldozed.

McGuire hopes for a fresh start.

“After all these years, the problems and headaches this building caused for you, why was tearing it down the only solution?” Keagy asked him.

“Well, it’s a good location, and the cost was prohibiting to rehab it. We just decided to change the use it was. There was not a lot of demand for the type of building it was. It had large rooms and was sometimes not efficient as new buildings would be. We decided it be best to tear it down and start with a new one,” McGuire said.

Now with a blank slate, McGuire hopes to redevelop the property and bring new business to the area.

“We’re thinking about a strip center with four or five users, and there will be a drive-thru on the right side [of the lot] next to WSAZ,” McGuire said.

McGuire said he’ll have a better idea of a timeline for construction after meeting with the architects.