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The downtown Wheeling presence of West Virginia Northern Community College was strengthened further Thursday, Sept. 20, when groundbreaking ceremonies took place for construction of a $2.1 million Barnes & Noble bookstore and Student Union.
“By pairing an expanded Barnes & Noble bookstore and a larger space for students to gather, we believe West Virginia Northern is providing the internal and external college community in Wheeling an exciting new meeting and shopping space,” Dr. Martin J. Olshinsky, WVNCC president, said. “We are growing and so is the city,” he added.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of the new West Virginia Northern Community College bookstore and student center building,” Max J. Roberts, president, Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, said. “The new space will allow us to make WVNCC students’ educational experience the very best it can be and to become a part of the fabric of the Wheeling community.”
City, county, state and college officials gathered at the site of the former Straub Hyundai building to overturn the ceremonial shovels full of sand and dirt. Also participating were representatives of Trushel Construction Co. of Weirton, the successful low bidder on the project, and SMG Architects of Wheeling, which designed the building. Bookstore officials attending included Dean George, store manager of the current Barnes & Noble bookstore located in the college’s B&O Building, and Lil Kabasan, regional manager for Barnes & Noble. Area economic development and business leaders also attended.
Steve Lippiello, WVNCC’s vice president of administrative services and chief financial officer, said a total of seven firms provided bids for the project, with Trushel winning the bid for the 9,540 square foot structure. First floor of the building will be devoted to the bookstore which will employ a typical store layout with space for a café area and an expanded array of clothing and books. Lippiello said the “public will be pleased to know there will be more book offerings than would be at a typical college bookstore.”
The second floor will be Northern’s official Student Union, Lippiello explained, with a large open space for students to gather informally. “Because it will be the Student Union, the college also may utilize the open space at peak times for students such as textbook distribution.” There will be space for an office for the Student Activities Department as well as storage space, he said.
Lippiello said the college expects construction to start by mid-October, with a completion date in June 2013. He said construction on the Applied Technology Center located in the former Straub Honda building is “close to being half way done, with much work now occurring on the roof.” A groundbreaking ceremony for that building was conducted on May 9 of this year and it is expected to be completed in March or April of 2013.
The Straub properties were purchased by the college on Feb. 24, 2011, for $1.05 million. Funds for the purchase and renovation of the buildings are available through state bond money approved by the Legislature in 2008.