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Old Long John Silver on Cumberland Road demolished along with neighboring house | News

BLUEFIELD — A sound like ripping cardboard was heard early Monday morning along Cumberland Road when an old restaurant was demolished as part of the City of Bluefield’s program to remove dilapidated structures.

City Manager Cecil Marson and Alex Ellison, code enforcement officer, watched as an excavator started tearing into the vacant structure. Soon a big part of the roof was down and the dining room was open to the falling snow.

In 2022, the city received $1.5 million from the state Department of Environmental Protection to pay for demolishing dilapidate and abandoned structures. Marson thanked the DEP, Gov. Jim Justice and Senator Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, for the demolition program.

Marson said that tearing down the old restaurant was important because it was along one of the city’s main roads.

“This building is an old Long John Silvers on our main drag where a lot of our businesses and traffic takes place,” Marson said as the structure was coming down. “It’s a huge eyesore that’s been here many years, and I think it’s kind of a systemic building in a lot of the towns in West Virginia. It was owned by a bigger corporation and they just kind of shut down and left and left us to deal with this really bad eyesore. and thanks to Alex’s hard work and the state having some really good vision, we’ll clean this lot up and this is something our economic development team can work with to bring in new business.”

Removing the vacant restaurant is good for Cumberland Road’s residents and for business in Bluefield, Marson said. Cumberland Road is a main route into the city for visitors coming off Route 460 and Interstate 77, so getting rid of the eyesore improves the first impressions visitors have when they arrive in Bluefield.

“One of the biggest inhibitors to growth is when people see blight on this side of the road,” he said. “Bluefield and a lot of other cities have had these businesses just take off and leave this kind of big mess.”

The hope is that demolishing the old restaurant and a two-story house next door to it will open space for new enterprises.

“It will get prepped and it will get cleaned up and then it will be a clean area and hopefully we can encourage a new business to come here because it’s a great entry off of Cumberland and we’ll see what happens, but it will give us a good clean slate,” Marson said.

The Long John Silvers corporation owns the site, and the city is working with the corporation to become the property’s new owners, Marson said.

Contractors started with the restaurant’s demolition, then moved on to the house.

“This will becoming down next,” Ellison said. “As soon as they finish with this one, they’ll head over to that one and knock it down as well. We’ve got 31 structures in this batch of dilapidated houses. Empire (Salvage) started a week ago. They’ve already got 12 down of the 31.”

Almost 30 structures have been demolished in the city.

“We’ve just put out another group of 20, so that will total it up to over 60 we’ve got ready to come down,” Ellison said, adding that the city hopes to take down “well over 100.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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