Judges Reject Scranton Commuter Tax

A panel of three judges Wednesday rejected Scranton‘s petition for a 1 percent wage tax on the nearly 23,000 nonresidents who work in the city but live elsewhere.

The city may make up the resulting budget shortfall next year by borrowing more next year than had been anticipated or selling an unspecified city asset, Mayor Chris Doherty said.

In their 50-page ruling, Lackawanna County Judges Terrence Nealon and Robert Mazzoni and visiting Pike County Judge Harold Thomson stated the city failed to prove its case for a 1 percent earned income tax on the 22,655 nonresidents working in the city.

The city failed to pass a required hurdle of having “substantially implemented” a revised recovery plan, by failing to fulfill two revenue generators in that plan.  Those included failing to obtain a commitment from a lender for a lease-back borrowing measure to be undertaken next year; and failing to obtain commitments from nonprofit entities for significantly increased donations, according to the ruling.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/judges-reject-scranton-commuter-tax-1.1418855

University Of Scranton Refuses To Pay New City Parking Tax

The University of Scranton is suing the city over a new tax city officials enacted this year on parking garages and parking lots and is refusing to pay it until a judge weighs in.

The university filed suit in Lackawanna County Court on Friday, asking a judge to declare the university – a nonprofit – exempt from the city’s 15 percent tax on parking facilities where patrons pay to park.

City officials have said the tax is critical to bringing in more revenue for the financially distressed city.  Council’s 2012 budget estimates the tax will bring in $500,000.

If a judge ruled in the university’s favor, city Business Administrator Ryan McGowan said the city would lose out on a “substantial amount” of revenue from the tax.  He could not immediately provide specific numbers when contacted about the suit Friday afternoon.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/university-of-scranton-refuses-to-pay-new-city-parking-tax-1.1369775

Developer Charlie Jefferson: A Driving Force Behind Scranton’s Downtown Renaissance

 Connell Building exterior

My trip to Scranton included meeting and touring with Charlie Jefferson, along with Mayor Doherty.  Charlie is a Scranton developer who has a passion for his work and a desire to see Scranton blossom.  Charlie is responsible for the dramatic transformation of the Connell Building.  Charlie, like Mayor Doherty, is very down-to-earth and approachable.

Charlie took us inside the Connell Building.  The eight-story building sat vacant for 10 years before being developed.  The building’s occupancy rate was about 20 percent for ten years before becoming vacant.  Now there are 89 new 1 – 2 bedroom, market-priced, luxury loft apartments.  The building has been beautifully restored, while maintaining historical integrity and bringing the building up to code.  Every loft is rented.  There is a waiting list!  I have no interior pictures of any apartments because there is no model and Charlie was unable to contact anyone who might have let us tour and photograph their apartment home.  Maybe next trip!

The bottom two floors of the Connell Building will be used for commercial/retail/office.  This will be a great example of mixed-use development when this part is finished.  Charlie said he is working with a grocery store to move into the building along with other tenants to fill the remaining commercial/retail/office space.  Imagine the convenience of going down an elevator to the grocery store.  No driving, parking and traffic!  City living at its finest!

Another nice feature of the Connell Building is the attached parking garage.  Secure garage parking is available to all the residents of the Connell Building if they choose to rent a space.

Over 50% of the Connell Building’s tenants are new residents to Scranton and Lackawanna County.  There is a growing segment of people who want to live in a redeveloped heritage property.  These people are usually well-educated professionals who want the best urban living has to offer.  There are looking for walkable downtowns with fine restaurants, shopping, cultural events, services and entertainment.  Concentrated pockets of people in a downtown, with disposable income, will greatly increase the customer base for stores, restaurants and other businesses in general.  This phenomenon is not necessarily limited to the 20’s – 30’s demographic.  There are more middle-agers and seniors who want to sell the house, downsize and become urban dwellers entering this emerging market.

The Connell Building’s first tenant is a grandson of the building’s original owner.  He was very excited to see his family’s former building redeveloped and wanted to be part of the renaissance in Scranton.

Charlie’s newest project is the redevelopment of the former Chamber of Commerce Building, not far from the Connell Building.  The building is now vacant.  Like the Connell Building, the old Chamber Building was constructed during Scranton’s King Coal heyday.  It is very opulent.  Charlie plans to do the same thing with this building as he did with the Connell Building.  It is expected that Scranton will need 600 more apartments/condominiums in the next 5 years because of the medical college and spin-off development.  If the law school becomes a reality, that number will substantially increase. 

Charlie took us inside the old Chamber Building and we poked around.  Structurally it is in great shape and ripe for development.  The building has amazing architectural features and many of the apartments will feature spectacular views of downtown Scranton.  There will be balconies!  This project will rent out quickly because of the location and unique features of the space.  The success of the Connell Building has paved the way for further mixed-use development downtown.

I am looking forward to the completion of Charlie’s newest project.  It promises to be amazing.

Having a great developer, like Charlie Jefferson, to work with is a huge part of the redevelopment process.  Mayor Doherty has surrounded himself with some very competent people to help turn his vision for Scranton into a reality.

 

Chamber Building pictures below, currently vacant awaiting development!