Nitro hopeful for new life in city after demolition of vacant properties

Nitro plans to demolish more than 20 vacant buildings
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 9:23 PM EDT
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NITRO, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Faye Bowles said she has lived on 24th Street in Nitro for almost 30 years and said she has seen plenty of changes in the neighborhood.

“When I first moved in, there was a doctor’s office at the corner and there was a lot of traffic around,” she recalled. “Then, when the doctor passed away, the building became rental homes for families.”

However, she said as the years passed, so have the condition of the homes.

“After the families moved in, it seemed like the properties started to go downhill,” she said as the families moved out, conditions around the homes deteriorated. “You see somebody strange lurking. You wonder if they are staying in an abandoned building, if they are up to something.”

Nitro City Planner Kim Reed shared sentiments. She said through the last few years, abandoned buildings in Nitro have been more than just an eyesore to those who live in the neighborhood. She said the buildings also create health and safety hazards to first responders who regularly take calls of incidents in there.

“If the properties are not being cared for they’re not helping anyone, they’re creating a serious concern for first responders that have to come in and deal with the boarded up houses and squatting and vacancy,” she said. “In some of these houses they’ve been vacant for eight, nine, ten years. It’s a real dangerous situation.”

Reed said the city plans to use about $350,000 from Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan funds to use to demolish at least 20 buildings Nitro has acquired in recent years, which include former commercial and residential buildings.

Once demolished, the city plans to use the spaces for new commercial buildings, new homes or sell to neighboring residents to expand their properties.

Regardless of a property’s future use, Reed said residents who live near the buildings will still live on streets that meet city code and continue to receive city services.

“Everybody is excited to see what could come, what the future holds, what could come in its place,” she said. “We want to be part of the conversation, solution and create new opportunities.”

Bowles said there are a few options to help residents the city could take.

“It’d be nice to get another grocery store or something, right now we’re limited to what we could get in Nitro.”

Reed said a more concrete timeline on the buildings’ demolition will be available once the state approves for the city to proceed.

In the meantime, the city said some of the buildings are being temporarily repurposed, for example, some buildings on 24th street are being used as training spaces for the Nitro firefighters.