Boscov: Steamtown Mall Nearing Foreclosure

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Mall at Steamtown is on the verge of foreclosure, department store magnate Al Boscov disclosed to The Times-Tribune on Wednesday.

The mall ownership group, Steamtown Mall Partners LP, recently defaulted on a lump sum mortgage payment and a property foreclosure action is expected to be filed by Friday in Lackawanna County Court, Boscov told the newspaper’s editorial board.

The mall will continue to operate and shoppers should notice no difference at the Lackawanna Avenue retail complex during foreclosure, he said. All of the mall’s tenants but one, a store whose lease was up, have decided to stay.

Reiterating his personal commitment to the mall and to downtown Scranton, Boscov, chairman and chief executive of Boscov’s department store, said the mall’s ownership believes the foreclosure process will help the property emerge as a financially healthier operation.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/boscov-steamtown-mall-nearing-foreclosure-1.1645780

Enhanced by Zemanta

In Downtown Scranton Residential Boom, No Sign Of Slowing

Picture 062Four years ago, there was no residential life along the unit block of Franklin Avenue. By the end of this year, more than 55 apartments could be located along Franklin, between Lackawanna Avenue and Spruce Street.

“It’s about quality of living,” former Mayor Chris Doherty said earlier this month before he left office. “I said from the beginning, fail or success, we will go after downtown living.”

Scranton building contractor and redeveloper Art Russo bought into Mr. Doherty’s concept and his latest downtown project is one of his largest.

He is constructing 21 apartments on the three upper floors at the Bittenbender Building, a four-story, 48,000-square-foot structure at 126-132 Franklin. A sports bar, seafood restaurant and speakeasy-themed jazz club will occupy the 9,000-square-foot first floor.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/in-downtown-scranton-residential-boom-no-sign-of-slowing-1.1615299

Enhanced by Zemanta

As Scranton Mayor, Doherty Leaving, His Mark Affixed

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For an evaluation of Mayor Chris Doherty’s 12 years in the top city job, listen to his chief critic.

“Overall, the mayor did a very good job. He had a vision for the city and, by and large, I think he fulfilled that vision,” city council President Janet Evans said.

This is the same Janet Evans who spent the better part of her 10 years as a councilwoman ripping Mr. Doherty for one shortcoming or another at weekly council meetings.

Not that Mrs. Evans is done criticizing. She still thinks Mr. Doherty borrowed too much money, should have negotiated contracts with the city’s police and firefighter unions instead of fighting a losing and costlier arbitration battle and needed, in his later years, more experienced cabinet members.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/as-mayor-doherty-leaving-his-mark-affixed-1.1608177

Scranton Santa Parade Slated For Saturday

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Floats, balloons, marching bands and even a horse-drawn carriage will lead Santa Claus into Scranton this weekend as the Santa Parade once again spreads holiday cheer throughout the city.

Organizers wanted to make the parade bigger and better this year, and it certainly has grown. Stepping off Saturday at 9 a.m., the 21st annual parade will boast at least 20 floats, double the number it typically has. More participants will make the parade more enjoyable, said Mike Gallacher, vice president of finance for Santa Parade Inc.

“The parade’s always great because there’s always great entertainment, but we’re going to have more variety this year,” he said.

This is the first year Santa Parade Inc. organized the parade rather than the Scranton Jaycees, the planner for many years, after members of the Jaycees decided to spin off the parade off into its own group. Jaycees members “age out” of the group when they turn 41, and a lot of people – Mr. Gallacher included – were nearing that milestone and did not want to see the parade dissipate, he said.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/lifestyles/santa-parade-slated-for-saturday-1.1588844

Bon-Ton To Close Steamtown Mall Store

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bon-Ton will vacate the Mall at Steamtown in January, the company reported today.

The York-based retailer reported it will close its 100,000-square-foot store in the mall Jan. 24, employees reportedly were told today.

The store was underperforming and a decision was made not to extend the lease at the mall, which expires Jan. 31, said Mary Kerr, a Bon-Ton spokeswoman.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/bon-ton-to-close-steamtown-mall-store-1.1570367

New Program Brings Local Interns To Downtown Scranton Businesses

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Local talent meets opportunity

Students at local colleges shouldn’t have to go out of town to get professional experience as interns, and local business needn’t look further than local institutions to get the talent they need.

That was the consensus of a group of business, college and government leaders who Monday announced the Small Business Internship Initiative to connect students and downtown business, a program they hope will expand to a multi-county area.

“If you look at the diversity of the higher education institutions in our area – there is no skill a business can not find,” said Gerald C. Zaboski of the University of Scranton, after a news conference on Courthouse Square announcing the pilot program.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/new-program-brings-local-interns-to-downtown-businesses-1.1484808

Annual First Night Celebrates City’s Diversity New Year’s Eve In Downtown Scranton

picture-0571The tradition of kicking off the new year with a bang – not to mention a little music, magic and more – remains alive and well in the Electric City.

For the 14th consecutive year, First Night Scranton will draw visitors to the city’s downtown, where a slew of venues will host activities and live performances on New Year’s Eve.

This year’s family-friendly event will bring attention to Scranton’s diversity through the theme “New Year’s Eve Around the World.”

“What we kind of focused on was how the ethnicity of the city is evolving and changing,” First Night project director Paige Balitski said.  “And we thought, you know, we should revisit what ethnicities were in the beginning of Scranton and what it’s changing into and adding to all of that.”

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/lifestyles-people/annual-first-night-celebrates-city-s-diversity-new-year-s-eve-in-downtown-scranton-1.1421404

Restaurants, Residences Planned For Former Whistles Pub In Scranton

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A downtown developer’s plans for a vacant building on Franklin Avenue promises to bring more business and foot traffic to what just a year ago had been a neglected block of downtown.

This week, Art Russo of Scranton purchased the Bittenbender Building, which formerly housed the popular Whistles Pub and Eatery.  His rough plans for the building call for 15 apartments on the third and fourth floors, possibly offices on the second floor, and a restaurant, deli and possibly a third ground-floor tenant.

“The first floor space is too big for one restaurant, and we’d like to create space for two or three different business,” Mr. Russo said.

He’s talked to a potential operator of a deli that sells prepared foods and some groceries as a potential tenant.  The restaurant and kitchen side, which has equipment in place, is a turnkey operation, Mr. Russo said.  The former Whistles had a sizable back room, which could have potential as a third entity.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/restaurants-residences-planned-for-former-whistles-pub-1.1382682

First Night Scranton Gears Up To Ring In 2012

First Night Scranton, the alcohol-free, family-friendly event will take place for the 13th year Saturday, Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. on Courthouse Square, offering an alternative to the traditional alcohol-soaked ideal of the holiday.

“There aren’t many options for families and younger people to do things on New Year’s Eve,” said Doug Smith, entertainment chair of this year’s event. “You can either go to a bar and there’s alcohol and all that stuff, or you just stay home and then you’re not going out to do anything. So it’s a great thing for families to do and for teenagers to be able to do on their own.”

First Night is a trademarked event held all over the country, promoting arts, culture and family activities. First Night Scranton was established in 1998 by Scranton Tomorrow and was turned over to the city in 2008. Now, it’s a nonprofit run by volunteers that relies on fundraising and corporate sponsors.

Read more: http://www.theweekender.com/cover/Old_times_not_forgotten_12-20-2011.html

Scranton: Northeast Pennsylvania’s Economic Growth Engine (Part One)

I recently had the pleasure of being given a tour of downtown Scranton by Mayor Chris Doherty.  Here are some thoughts and observations from my experience.

Mayor Doherty is a very down-to-earth person.  I was impressed by his friendliness towards the residents of Scranton and his commitment to the city.  We were joined by developer Charlie Jefferson.  Charlie developed the Connell Building and is working on some other projects in Scranton.  I will be writing a separate article about Charlie and his projects.  These two gentlemen made my trip enjoyable and highly productive!

Mayor Doherty gave me some basic information, before we left the office, about what has gone on in Scranton during the ten years he has been mayor.  When Mayor Doherty took office there were 22 empty buildings in downtown Scranton.  Scranton had hit a low point.  He decided his focus as mayor would be finances, the parks system and the downtown.  Former Governor Ed Rendell gave Scranton $140 million during the eight years he was in office.  It has certainly been put to good use.

One thing which pleasantly surprised me is the walkability of the downtown, for a mid-sized city.  The nice grid pattern of the streets, good signage and cleanliness were huge pluses.  I felt completely safe.  Scranton has a low crime rate for a mid-sized city.  As we walked and talked it became readily apparent that Scranton has turned the corner.

There are plentiful and diverse restaurants in the downtown which include things like Thai, Lebanese and Vegan.  A high-end steak house is also under construction downtown.  It will be along the lines of Morton’s or Ruth Chris.  We walked through the construction area that is being framed-out.  The influx of new center city residents, the Commonwealth Medical College, the University of Scranton, two courthouses, a municipal building, Steamtown Mall and new companies setting up headquarters downtown have swelled the demand for goods and services.  There is substantial foot traffic downtown, a key ingredient to redevelopment.

Mayor Doherty has built three new parking garages and rehabilitated one to make sure adequate parking is available for downtown visitors, shoppers and workers.  Lack of parking had been an issue that kept people from coming downtown.

Several companies have relocated or grown their businesses downtown.  An old Woolworth’s store is now home to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney & Fax Serve, which combined employ 200 people.  A high-end salon opened downtown that has grown to 80 employees.

Downtown Scranton has a Hilton Hotel and a Radisson Hotel.  The Radisson is the former Lackawanna Railroad Station.  Talk about an adaptive reuse success story!  We went inside so the mayor could show me around.  It is fantastic!  Both hotels are large and well-kept.  I asked Mayor Doherty what the occupancy rate averaged and he said “85%”.  Scranton hosts many events, conferences and meetings which help keep the hotels full and visitors coming into Scranton.  The mayor made a good point by saying people visit Scranton, leave impressed and spread the word!

The University of Scranton is located downtown and home to 7,000 students.  The university is growing by leaps and bounds.  Currently there are two enormous construction projects taking place that total more than $100 million.  The university is also considering the establishment of a law school which would be another huge economic boost for Scranton.  The University of Scranton is a key partner, along with the city, in transforming the downtown.

Commonwealth Medical College is building a campus downtown.  This is Pennsylvania’s first medical school to be built in 50 years.  The school is now leasing space and is in their second year of operation.  In September, the student body will move into the school’s new permanent downtown site.  The medical school will be responsible for bringing 800 new jobs and 600 students into downtown Scranton.  Six hundred new apartments/condos will be needed in the next five years as a result.  (If the law school becomes a reality; housing demand will sharply increase above the current projection for 600 units, fueling further economic development downtown.)

During our tour, we walked past the building used as the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company headquarters in NBC’s hit mockumentary, The Office.  Scranton was on the list of possible locations being considered.  When it was discovered the bar across the street from the building was named The Office, Greg Daniels decided it was perfect.  The Office has brought a great deal of free publicity to Scranton and has increased tourism.  There are monthly tours offered (March through December) and conventions, for fans of The Office, that bring many people to Scranton.

There is more to come in Part II on Thursday