DiCarlo Household Seeks Slice of Wheeling’s Housing Market With Luxurious Condos | Information, Sports activities, Jobs
WHEELING — The city of Wheeling went through a period of decades without seeing new construction projects in its downtown area, but now the ball has begun to roll on new builds, and the latest venture has got many in town buzzing — any way you slice it.
New real estate listings have sprung up for available luxury condominiums in a downtown building that is set for construction this year. The listing for condos touts the space as being a part of the new city’s renaissance, which many movers and shakers in town argue is well underway with all of the multimillion dollar investments taking place at nearly every turn downtown.
The project is being launched by the DiCarlo family, namesake and operator of the Original DiCarlos Famous Pizza chain. The name of the new facility at 1115 Main St. will be the DiCarlo Building, as stated in the real estate listing.
“This is completely new for me,” owner Toni DiCarlo said. “I’ve been in the pizza business for 37 years. It’s weird getting into real estate now after all that time. I never dreamed I was going to enter into something this big.”
Yet the venture is already proving to be a tremendous success, as the luxury condos have been a hot seller, with only one unit still available with the others in the yet-to-be-constructed building either sold or marked as sale pending in the short period of time since the listings appeared.
People seem to want a slice of the housing market in Wheeling.
DiCarlo said she jumped into the real estate game through a collaboration with veteran Pittsburgh-area developer Tom Janidas, who has been building commercial properties for 47 years. Janidas also made a splash in the regional industry by partnering with former Pittsburgh Steelers star James Harrison on developing high-end student housing projects near West Liberty University and West Virginia University.
But would condominiums do well in downtown Wheeling? Would the investment be worth it for such an ambitious new construction project for nice condos with retail spaces on the lower level?
The vacant lot on Main Street also opens up on Water Street adjacent to the north end of Heritage Port. It boasts a spectacular view of the Ohio River, but the site — the former location of the massive Reichart Furniture building downtown — has been an empty lot for years. It remained vacant even after DiCarlo purchased it several years ago.
“I purchased the property a few years ago just before the city passed the three-story rule,” DiCarlo said, citing the measure Wheeling City Council passed in 2017 mandating that all newly constructed buildings in the downtown must be three stories or taller. “I wanted to build a one-story building and move the pizza shop there, but the new rule only allowed for a three-story building. At the time, I wasn’t able to afford such a venture.”
Today, with the help of Janidas — who will oversee the construction of the new building — DiCarlo is ready to go even taller with a four-story condominium building with two units on most floors and two retail units on the street level.
“He explained how I could afford to do them, and told me they would be sold before we even broke ground,” she said. “Apparently he was right.”
The entries on real estate agent Robby Kilgore’s Re/Max Broadwater site still have units on the second and third story of the DiCarlo Building listed – with two luxury condos on the second and third level. The second level suites are listed at $150,000 each, and the third-level suites are listed at $200,000 each. The fourth-floor, 3,200-square-foot penthouse suite was the first to sell.
“It’s exciting,” Kilgore said. “Being a Wheeling guy, I think it’s amazing. With all of the revitalization going on downtown, this goes hand-in-hand.”
Each 1,500-square-foot condo on the second and third floor — two suites per level — will be a shell that will be a custom build designed by the buyer. A typical unit would include two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a private balcony overlooking the river. The huge, luxury penthouse unit on the top floor will have an elevator that opens directly into the suite, Kilgore said.
DiCarlo said she hoped to break ground within the next month or so.
Original plans called for the downtown pizza shop to possibly relocate to one of the two lower level retail units, with the adjacent retail space available to another business that would complement it. However, DiCarlo noted that those plans are still fluid and are not yet set in stone.
But the construction of the DiCarlos Building is moving forward, and city officials have applauded the venture.
Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott said a lot of investment has been taking place downtown by way of historic renovations and improvements to existing buildings with the help of the city’s Facade Improvement Program, but very few new buildings have been constructed in the downtown over the past several decades, he noted.
“I just want to put that into a little bit of perspective,” Elliott said during last week’s city council meeting. “Between 1982 and 2016, there were no new private sector buildings built in downtown Wheeling. Then The Health Plan opened its doors, and that was the first one in 34 years.”
It took a few more years, but then the city got the Ohio Valley Community Federal Credit Union on Chapline Street, the mayor said.
“Then it took just about a year later when we saw the announcement about the Doris on Main project,” Elliott noted. “And less than a year later, we’re seeing that last week we’re getting a new, four-story condominium proposed at 1115 Main St. by the DiCarlo family.”
photo by: Eric Ayres
The mayor said it was great to see a void being filled by long-awaited new construction projects that are really starting to take hold in the city.
“This is especially good to see in the downtown area,” he said. “We need to see a lot of new construction here to fill in a lot of what some call the ‘missing teeth’ in our street walls.
“I feel this is just going to be a great addition to downtown. We need to see more of that.”
Not only is it good to see action taken to fill open voids in the downtown landscape, it’s also good to see investment into a virtually untapped market locally – one for condominiums, the mayor said.
“Just from talking to residents and from talking with folks in the real estate industry, I really see a demand for some condominiums in and around the downtown area,” Elliott said. “I talk to people all of the time who want to downsize, who want to be on one floor, who want to be in a situation where they can leave and maybe go down to Florida for a couple of months in the winter to get out of the cold, but they don’t want to rent. And there’s really not a lot of buildings in this community that satisfy that, especially in an urban footprint where you can walk to a lot of different things.”
Elliott added that the city is more than willing to help other developers who are interested in investing in the Wheeling market with similar ventures.
“I think there are a lot more opportunities for condominiums out there,” he said. “If you are a developer out there, please come and talk to us, because we think we see more opportunities for that.”
DiCarlo said that with positive steps forward in the downtown — such as the pending demolition of the Wheeling Inn and all of the other developments taking place — it’s certainly an exciting time in Wheeling.
“I think it’s wonderful,” she said.