The Superblock

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For 30 years, the Superblock in downtown Huntington was a
weed-invested parking lot.

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HUNTINGTON In the 1960s and '70s, many American cities embarked on downtown urban
 renewal projects. Joining the trend, the Huntington Urban Renewal Authority
acquired a big slice of the city's downtown and leveled much of it.

The downtown makeover spawned a number of notable projects, including a new Cabell County Library,
a new building for the First Huntington National Bank (today's J.P. Morgan Chase),
Harris Riverfront Park and a new Red Cross Center, among others. But urban
renewal's envisioned centerpiece a nine-acre tract bounded by 8th Street,
the north side of 3rd Avenue, 10th Street and Veterans Memorial
 Boulevard would remain a weed-infested parking lot for
30 years, defying all efforts to develop it.

In 1970, when the buildings were leveled on what became known as the
 "Superblock," a nationally known developer spent two years
unsuccessfully seeking tenants for an indoor shopping
 mall, then filed for bankruptcy

In 1977, the Huntington Civic Center (today's Big Sandy Superstore Arena)
was constructed on the western end of the Superblock,
but that still left most of the tract vacant.

The next year a group of local entrepreneurs proposed building a hotel, retail stores,
an office building and even a TV station. It didn't happen. In 1983, a national firm
 leased the Superblock and starting seeking tenants. After two years, it gave up.
An off-track betting casino was proposed. It didn't happen. A 1987 plan for a
20-story office tower and a proposed outlet mall were equally unsuccessful.

In 1998, a Holiday Inn opened adjacent to the Big Sandy Arena
but most of the Superblock remained stubbornly vacant.

When talk started about yet another Superblock development many people found it
difficult to get excited. They'd been disappointed too many times, but this
 time the talk became reality. And when Pullman Square was
 dedicated in 2004, it put a long-overdue
end to the Superblock saga.

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Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on May 15, 2017

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