The Herald-Dispatch: Huntington Developers with Plans to Rehab Historic Buildings for Retirees Look to Lawmakers for Boost


By Fred Pace / The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON – A group of local investors plans to launch a drive to attract 500 retirees to live in renovated historic buildings in downtown Huntington.

The vision of Bob Childers, John Hankins, Alex Vence and Jeff Barnes is that up to $50 million will be spent to upgrade up to 11 downtown structures, and pump up to $20 million annually into the economy if their initiative succeeds as planned. Childers, Hankins and Vence are local developers and Barnes is president and chief executive officer of the Barnes Agency, a marketing, advertising and public relations firm located in downtown.

They have founded a group called Retire Huntington, which has the goal of fueling the renovation of 425,000 square feet of space in multiple downtown buildings that would be eligible for tax credits because of their historic nature. Among the buildings they have identified are the Coal Exchange, Prichard, West Virginia Building and The Frederick, according to Childers.

“If we can attract 500 retirees over five years, this plan would provide $50 million in construction spending,” he said. “It will eliminate vacant second-story buildings as well as provide additional revenue to business, medical, bank wealth management, city, county and state revenues.”

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