Lights On West Virginia

Lights ON! West Virginia: A Strategy to Improving Quality of Life in Rural Appalachia (Article 1 of 3)Read More

What is Lights ON! West Virginia. Let’s look at a satellite image of West Virginia taken at night.

You can make out lights in Charleston, Morgantown, Wheeling, the eastern pan handle and Beckley, but for the most part, the New River Gorge Region is quite dark. We like it that way, right? Quiet, safe and starry nights.

Now zoom in and imagine a small light illuminating Oak Hill, WV, a small, town in southern WV, north of Beckley. Now see more little light bulbs (CFL’s of course) illuminating revitalized downtowns across the dark backdrop of the rolling, rural West Virginia landscape. The little lights are once forgotten and now rehabilitated buildings located along downtown Main St., Anysmalltown, WV. Restaurants are open late and the gallery is having a show.

The creative workers are out on the town with their friends and family. There’s a buzz of activity providing just enough energy to efficiently power the buildings, repair the sidewalks, and improve open space and walk-ability.

LightsON! West Virginia is a company with a vision to improve the quality of life of workers and residents in West Virginia downtowns. Working with existing buildings, the company breathes new life and energy into once-forgotten spaces. Over time, this approach spurs service sector growth and cultivates diversity by applying a common sense approach of adaptive re-use.

The Bellann building is our 1st project and turning into a big success. The Bellann was constructed in 1930 and encases nearly 10,000 ft2 of usable interior space. The focus of the renovation so far is on the 2nd floor, once home to a doctor’s office, a dentists’ office, apartments and most recently (16 years ago) the National Park Service.

Today, the 2nd floor of Bellann building houses new tenants with new ideas on how to live and work in a rural downtown. Tele-commuters and branch offices of companies and organizations like Earthmark, Drive Current, WELD, Elite Distance Learning and National Parks Conservation Association occupy the 3500 ft2 2nd floor. Due to natural lighting, a reflective roof and an efficient HVAC system, the tenants are splitting a $100 utility bill for 3500 ft2 of space!

The Bellann is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council and on track to be the first LEED certified existing building under private ownership in West Virginia. Stop by 137 ½ East Main Street (across from Wendy’s) for a tour.

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