Smith said he envisioned commercial space on the lower level with quality apartments above.
The lower level of any business in Marlinton presents a problem to potential investors because much of the town sits in the flood plain.
Buildings must be raised above the 100-year flood plain, which does not reach much of Main Street; however, floods in 1985 and 1996 gushed water into the town's business district at levels of 6 to 8 feet.
Smith said those were 500-year floods.
Smith appointed Greenbrier Economic Development Corp. director Steve Weir to chair the task force.
Weir said progress is being made on a couple of different levels. While the buildings are being demolished, the task force is meeting with the property owners to listen to what they have to say about their future.
Weir said the group is also looking at possibilities for the future, whether the owners want to stay in Marlinton, or if they decide to leave.
And Weir said the task force plans to look at how the reconstruction will fit into other properties in town.
"We really want to have that kind of continuity in mind as we move forward," he said. Toward that end, he said the task force plans to hire a consultant to look at the town as a whole and be able to spot the hurdles that will arise.
The work may just be the beginning for Marlinton's rebirth.
"I don't think the effort will stop there," Weir said. "I see this as kind of evolving in a natural way."
For Lanier and the Dirtbean customers, sooner is better.
"If I'm going to stay in Marlinton and Pocahontas County, it hinges on my being able to find a satisfactory location," Lanier said. She's made no real decision yet, but she said she doesn't think she can afford to rebuild on the property she owns because of the time and cost involved in dealing with potential flooding issues.
So many reasons point the way for her to leave, she said. And yet, she can't quite make that leap. Part of the reason for that is the "family" she's found in Marlinton.
Former employee Brenda Walters has not put pressure on Lanier to stay, but "she's family to me," Lanier said.
For the curious, O'hana means "family" in Hawaiian.