Genetti’s Upgrading Hotel In Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The top two penthouse floors of Best Western Genetti Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre will be converted into the new “Oyster Boutique Hotel,” hotel owner Gus Genetti and Oyster Restaurant owner Thom Greco said this morning.

Genetti said it will cost $200,000 to $250,000 to upgrade the rooms to create a small intimate luxury hotel with amenities such as new furnishings, technology and art. The rooms will cater to those looking for high-end rooms, he said.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/genetti-s-upgrading-hotel-in-wilkes-barre-1.1666257

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Philly Firm To Develop PNC Building In Downtown Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA —Floors three to 11 are empty.

That’s what is on the board in the lobby of the downtown PNC Bank Building. It lists the only tenant — PNC Bank — which occupies the first and second floor of the 12-story building.

But if plans go forward, those nine floors of the building at Market and Franklin streets will become market-priced condominiums with views of the Susquehanna River and the River Common park. Some office space will also be created, according to the building’s owner.

Ben Oller, of Oller and Associates of Philadelphia, said Monday his real estate investment company owns the building and is partnering with a local developer to renovate the bank building, following the lead of a similar project at the nearby the former Citizens Bank Building, also Market Street. Oller would not disclose the name of the local development company.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1215383/Philly-firm-to-develop-PNC-building

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Luxury Apartments Planned In Former Wilkes-Barre Bank

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE – Six floors of the historic Citizens Bank building in downtown Wilkes-Barre soon will be converted into 72 luxury apartments.

DxDempsey Architecture in Scranton is designing the apartments in one of the city’s tallest office buildings on West Market Street.

“It’s a very exciting project,” said architect Michelle Dempsey, president of the firm. “It’s in the works and there are still some financial hurdles to leap over, but it’s looking good. Living downtown is great for the downtown. People who live downtown shop downtown and it makes it a safe place. People living downtown is the first step to a successful revitalization.”

The historic bank building was designed by architect Daniel Burnham, who also designed icons like the Flatiron Building in New York City and was a main character in the book, “The Devil in the White City.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/luxury-apartments-planned-in-former-bank-1.1628877

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Wilkes-Barre Looking To Develop Downtown Sites

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The city is shopping its downtown properties cleared during emergency demolition and sweetening the offer with the prospect of tax exemptions associated with a Keystone Opportunity Zone.

The city condemned its vacant structures last October that were in danger of collapse and entered a $194,861 contract to tear them down while leaving stand two other privately owned buildings located in the middle of the cluster.

Earlier this week, the city put out a request for proposals for development of the properties at 69, 71, 73-75 S. Main St. with a March 6 response deadline. The city would like to see multistory, mixed-use development on the site to include ground-floor specialty retail shops and restaurants and office or residential space above, similar to the University Corners property across the street.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1158435/City-looking-to-develop-sites

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In Search Of Progress, Downtown Wilkes-Barre Evolves

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA —In South Main Street’s first block, several storefronts are empty on the east side and recent demolitions on the other side have a dress shop waiting to reopen and a jewelry store working to re-establish itself.

Further down, the building that houses a longtime retailer has been sold and the former Bartikowsky’s building is expected to be soon owned by Wilkes University.

Changes have come to South Main Street — the city’s main retail artery — but sustained progress has remained elusive.

Jim Bellezza, owner of Bell Furniture at 95 S. Main St., purchased the building that houses the Outlet Army Navy Store at 113 S. Main St. for $159,000 on Jan. 3. An empty lot separates the two buildings and Bellezza plans to renovate the building and expand his business.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/1112993/In-search-of-progress-Downtown-W-B-evolves

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Demolition Of Downtown Wilkes-Barre Buildings Begins

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — The landscape of the city’s downtown started to change this morning with the demolition of several historic buildings on South Main Street.

Shortly after 10 a.m. crews from Stell Enterprises Inc., of Plains Township, began tearing down the first of four buildings with the hope of saving two other buildings that are home to businesses.

Stell will be paid $194, 861 for the work to raze a cluster of properties , including three owned by the city, at 61, 71, 73 and 75 S. Main St.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/976972/Demolition-of-downtown-buildings-begins

Latest Phase Of Wilkes-Barre Streetscape Project Completed

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — State and federal funds paid for the latest phase of the city’s latest streetscape project, and Mayor Tom Leighton on Thursday said more money will be sought to complete the improvements downtown.

Sheltered from the rain under the overhang of an office building on Public Square, Leighton and more than a dozen state, city and local economic development officials stood on a section of concrete sidewalk poured in the summer and marked the completion of Phase 5 of the project with a ribbon cutting.

The mayor thanked the downtown businesses for their patience during construction that brought new walks, trees and curbing on a quarter of the Square from South Main Street to North Main Street and along East Market Street to Washington Street.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/950645/Latest-phase-of-W-B-streetscape-project-completed

Ramada Near Deal With King’s College, Sources Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA —The King’s College physician-assistant program has attracted several hundred applicants, and the college is looking for space to allow that expansion.

Apparently, that space might be the Ramada Hotel on Public Square.

Although sources said no deal has been struck to date, several indicated that there is a strong interest from King’s in the 105-room hotel that opened in the 1980s as the Sheraton-Crossgates.

Tony Grosek, owner of the Ramada, said he has been talking to college officials about entering into a long-term deal, but Grosek said he couldn’t confirm that anything has been finalized.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/933106/Ramada-near-deal-with-Kings-College-sources-say

Reputed Wilkes-Barre Drug Trafficking Hub To Become Deli

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE – The Master Barber Shop on Hazle Street has been shuttered for more than a month, ever since prosecutors called it the “hub” of a multimillion-dollar drug trafficking operation.

But on Friday, the shop was abuzz.  Workers swept the floors, cleaned the shop and put a fresh coat of paint out front.

A sign on the front window tells the neighborhood a “Mexican deli” is on its way.

City resident Fernando Ortega, 45, said he hopes to open the shop in about a month.  He plans to install a small grill to cook food, he said, and will sell soft drinks, coffee, sandwiches and tacos.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/reputed-drug-trafficking-hub-to-become-deli-1.1534029

Hotel Sterling Demo Could Change More Than Just The Landscape

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Ali Kazimi’s arrival at work was memorable Tuesday because the seven-story Hotel Sterling next door was almost entirely demolished.

“It was strange. You can see the eagles on the Market Street Bridge from our property.  We have a riverfront view,” said Kazimi, the third-generation owner of M. Abraham Importer on West Market, which opened by the once bustling Sterling in 1927.

Kazimi looks forward to losing that view to new development on the 4-acre Sterling parcel.  City officials condemned and demolished the former hotel and plan to seize the cleared lot from its nonprofit owner, CityVest, so the site can be marketed and sold to a private developer.

Read more:   http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/715688/View-from-River-and-Market-is-optimistic

Is Wilkes-Barre’s Irem Temple Next On The Demolition List?

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — At some point something has to be done with the Irem Temple, and Rick Williams and others hope it’s not torn down like the nearby Hotel Sterling.

Last week demolition crews razed a good portion of the rear of the hotel.

They’re moving to the North River Street side today to continue to reduce the landmark structure to rubble.  The hotel opened in 1898, and nine years later, the temple, designed in Moorish revival architecture complete with four minarets and dome, was completed on North Franklin Street.

Like the hotel, it’s been vacant for years, and architect Rick Williams fears its brick walls could be bashed to pieces by the steel buckets and blades of excavators, like those leveling the hotel.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/707441/Is-the-Irem-Temple-next

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Has Heard From Potential Developers About Hotel Sterling Site

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE —Mayor Tom Leighton called it “a historic day” for the city, but also “a sad day” for the community.

As workers from Brdaric Construction Co. began to dismantle the former Hotel Sterling,  Leighton talked about the future and the potential for the historic site located at a gateway to the city’s downtown.

The mayor said he has heard from potential developers, but he declined to go further, saying it was premature to discuss what might happen once the building is down and the site cleared.

State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, called the site “the most valuable real estate in Luzerne County.”  He said he’s confident the city will find a quality developer.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/703044/As-Sterling-falls-Leighton-keeps-future-in-mind

A Legend Will Fall: Wilkes-Barre’s Sterling Hotel End Nears

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kurt Sauer will get a long-awaited birthday present next Thursday: The demolition of the Hotel Sterling.

Since Wilkes-Barre officials decided in January to bring the building down without the help of Luzerne County, the city had to start the process from scratch.  That meant Sauer, the city’s director of community development, had to fill out reams of paperwork – he points to a 4-inch binder chock-full of various documents – as he worked to get approval from various state and federal agencies.

So when Brdaric Excavating finally begins work Thursday, Sauer will be a year older and a step closer to finishing the job.  And the current chapter of the Sterling’s life, one filled with hopes of restoration and disappointing and expensive failures to save the historic building, will near a close.

John Brdaric, owner of Brdaric Excavating, didn’t respond to requests for an interview about the $419,000 demolition.  But Sauer and Butch Frati, Wilkes-Barre’s director of operations, explained how they believe the process will unfold.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/a-legend-will-fall-sterling-s-end-nears-1.1523678

Wilkes-Barre Farmers Market Is Back, And With It Comes The Sights And Smells Of Summer

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — Three young men were walking around the Farmers’ Market on Thursday around noon and one of them said, “Wow, there sure are a lot of good smells here.”

An accurate assessment of the opening of the 40th Farmers’ Market on Public Square. But the smells weren’t the only things for the senses to enjoy — there were tastes, bargains, music, sunshine and fun.

“There’s lots of stuff here,” said Debbie Rutkoski of Larksville, who was on her lunch break from her job at Wilkes University.  “This is so good for the downtown.

I wish there were more events on Public Square.”

Larry Newman, executive director of the Diamond City Partnership, the key downtown management organization in the city, said there will be more events downtown.  He said the Farmers’ Market is the embodiment of a city’s downtown.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/615828/W-Bs-roots-return-to-city

Wilkes-Barre Gets Final Funding Needed To Raze Dilapidated Hotel Sterling By Early Summer

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Demolition of the historic Hotel Sterling, once a grand city landmark that has fallen into disrepair and become a dangerous eyesore, should begin by late June to mid-July, the city has announced.

The city on Monday received an official release of about $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that is the final piece of funding needed to cover demolition.  The city will advertise for demolition bids this week, city Municipal Affairs Manager Drew McLaughlin said.

The funding is a portion of the city’s annual Community Development Block Grant allocation from HUD for removal of blighted properties.

“We are nearing the final stages of this demolition,” Mayor Tom Leighton said in a prepared statement.  “This has been a top priority since the flooding of 2011.  We all look forward to the day when the public safety threat has been addressed and the detour in downtown Wilkes-Barre is lifted.”

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/511398/Sterling-demo-date-edges-closer

Downtown Wilkes-Barre Putting On A New Face

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

The loud purple facade of the former Flaming Star Tattoos shop will soon be toned down to fit in with the downtown Wilkes-Barre neighborhood’s historical character — a subtle yet significant sign of once-shuttered storefronts being renovated or reopened around the theater complex.

It wasn’t just the color that unsettled city officials who saw the potential for the shop’s row of old architecture on South Main Street. It was the way the vibrant hue stopped midway up the building in an uneven line, accentuating the unfinished progress of the paint job and much of the neighborhood.

“One of the first things the new owners will do is repaint that facade,” said attorney William Vinsko, who bought the building at a Luzerne County back-tax auction for $33,000 last week on behalf of private clients who will be identified when the deed is recorded.  The buyers plan to renovate the property at 86 S. Main St. to attract tenants, Vinsko said.

Next door, Joseph and Pamela Masi are redoing the facade and interior of their property, which previously housed Topper’s topless bar, Vinsko said.  The Masis, who purchased the property for $85,000 in 2010, have added an ice cream shop at the rear of the property.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/462842/Putting-on-a-new-face

Amato Revs Up Downtown Wilkes-Barre

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — Businessman and former dragster driver Joe Amato told his story Friday morning to about 100 people gathered at the Penn State Wilkes-Barre Executive Management Forum at Genetti Hotel and Conference Center in the city’s downtown.

And it was his $5 million downtown investment Amato talked about most.  He revealed that Judd Shoval of Kingston is moving his business — Ambit and Shoval — to the theater complex on East Northampton Street and that only three other retail spots remain vacant.

Shoval did not return messages left on his cellphone and at his business.  will release more information on his plans next week, Amato said.

“Downtown Wilkes-Barre has a pulse,” he said.  “It has a sense of direction.  More than 400,000 people go to the movies every year and use the parking garage.  We have to get them outside to the street and patronize the businesses there.”

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local/465584/Amato-revs-up-downtown-W-B

Funds Sought To Restore Wilkes-Barre Irem Temple

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE – The 107-year-old Irem Temple building, a historic landmark on North Franklin Street, once was Wilkes-Barre‘s primary public performance venue.

Today, the once-grand building has fallen into disrepair and has no heat, lights or electricity.  But city and chamber officials are trying to save it.

During a tour by flashlight Wednesday, Ross Macarty, vice president of community development, real estate and special projects for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, showed that water damage has taken a toll on the deteriorating building and thieves have stolen copper and brass inside over the past two months.

The Greater Wilkes-Barre Development Corp., an arm of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, bought the building in 2005 for $992,000, using a combination of federal, state and chamber funds.  The chamber and city are seeking $2.4 million in state gaming funds to bring the building up to code and return it to use.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/funds-sought-to-restore-wilkes-barre-irem-temple-1.1434055

City Of Wilkes-Barre Christmas Parade, Saturday, November 19th

Christmas in the post-War United States

Image via Wikipedia

If you love Christmas, and all things associated with it, the place to be tomorrow is Wilkes-Barre.  Saturday, November 19th is the Wilkes-Barre Christmas parade plus a fun-filled day of holiday activities in the city.  The best part of all is that it is FREE!

The fun starts at 10am with the showing of A Christmas Story at Movies 14, downtown.  If you bring an unwrapped toy to benefit Toys for Tots, you get in FREE!

From noon until 1pm, you can enjoy a free Christmas concert by the King’s College Cantores Christi Regis Singers in the lobby of the Ramada, also downtown.

At 12:30pm, for those who aren’t in the mood for a concert, there is Storytelling at Barnes & Noble.  You can meet Mrs. Claus and enjoy a Christmas story.

At 1:30pm there is a concert at the F.M. Kirby Center.  The YOUniveristy Suzuki Strings will be playing in the lobby.  Come out and show your support for these young people!

At 2:00pm there is a Christmas Carol sing-a-long on Public Square.

From 2:00pm until 6pm there will be holiday face painting on Public  Square.   That will cost you $5.00 per face :)

At 3:15pm the main event begins.   The Christmas Parade featuring Santa, floats, music and tons of fun begins at South and S. Main Street.  There are four divisions this year.

Immediately after the parade, there will be a tree lighting ceremony on Public Square.  There will be photos with Santa for $5.00 to benefit Valley Santa, courtesy of Boscov’s.  There will also be complimentary (free) hot chocolate from the Salvation Army and the Wilkes-Barre Lion’s Club.

The Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association sponsored a window decorating contest this year (Window Wonderland) and over 40 businesses have decorated their windows to add even more holiday spirit to this year’s event!

It’s Christmas time in the city!

Kings College Reopens Today, September 11th

Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, PA will reopen today at noon!  The college evacuated their students and closed in the wake of the recent historic flooding in Wilkes-Barre.  Sunday sports and events are cancelled except for Mass in the chapel at 8 p.m.  Classes will resume Monday.

The City of Wilkes-Barre also lifted their mandatory evacuation order on Saturday for those areas unaffected by flooding.