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

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Tinseltown: First Night Scranton Returns With Hollywood Theme

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Scranton will roll out the red carpet to welcome the new year.

First Night Scranton will once again keep the city’s downtown abuzz on New Year’s Eve with live music, family-friendly activities and fireworks, and this time it will do so with Hollywood-style flair.

“It’s our 15th anniversary, so I thought, well, you know what? We’ve got to do something big,” said Paige Balitski, one of the event organizers. “What’s bigger than Hollywood? It’s fun. You can play off of movie stars and films.”

The different activities taking place throughout the night will touch on the Hollywood theme, with musicians set to perform movie themes and love songs and other activities drawing inspiration from films. Costumed characters from popular movies will greet guests, for instance, Ms. Baltiski said.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/lifestyles/tinseltown-first-night-scranton-returns-with-hollywood-theme-1.1606227

Mall At Steamtown Battles For Survival

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

As Bon-Ton reported it will vacate the Mall at Steamtown in January, department store magnate Al Boscov admits the shopping complex is battling for its existence.

“I am trying to figure out ways that we can survive,” said Boscov, who developed the $101 million Lackawanna Avenue complex and is a principal in the group that owns the facility.

Bon-Ton reported it will close its 100,000-square-foot store in the mall before its lease expires Jan. 31. Spokeswoman Mary Kerr said it probably will cease operations between Jan. 26 and Jan. 29.

“It’s sad. It’s certainly something that we don’t want to do,” Kerr said. “We do have to make these hard decisions at times.”

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/mall-at-steamtown-battles-for-survival-1.1570580

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

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

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