What a great opportunity Waynesburg University is missing to save a historic building in the borough’s downtown and integrating the university with it.
I expected the red carpet when I proposed to invest $3 million or $4 million to renovate the Peoples Bank Building and help revitalize the borough. But, instead, I got stonewalls and barbed wire.
My contractor and I met with the university and gave them our plans for renovating the building into 28 apartments. A noted structural engineer said it was one of the best-constructed buildings in the county.
Tearing down this useful, sound historic structure, particularly to build a parking lot, will have a long-term negative economic impact on Waynesburg. There is not one example of economic development that has been gained in a downtown through demolition. Just the opposite is true – the demolition of historic buildings, which represent the only marketing and economic edge a downtown has, leads to disinvestment and the erosion of property values.
The building has historical significance to the community. Redeveloping the property, rather than tearing it down, would provide a strong model of what can be done profitably with historic buildings, and help kick off a revitalization of downtown Waynesburg.
John C. McNay
McNay is the former owner of the Peoples Bank Building.