Downtown Living (Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, State College: condo, hotel, neighborhood)
Northeastern PennsylvaniaScranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pocono area
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Yah if you are looking for an urban setting with lots of activity 24hrs definitly look at Philly. You will be an hour or so train ride to NYC and Philly is pretty awesome. Scranton to compare to where you are from is more like bensonhurst. It is a small center with about 20 or so artiries. IF you are young and looking for a city Philly is your best bet. If you are looking for a town with a very small city feel then Scranton will be good, I hate Wilkes-Berre. My family used to own a business in Wilkes-Berre and i dreded going there.
I haven't been in the area long but I love downtown Scranton. W-B, not so much (and that's an understatement). As Paul said, it is a small town yet if feels as unsafe as a big city. Not to mention that it is esthetically not pleasing at all (again, JMHO). Maybe I'm wrong, but that was my impression when I was there.
No. You're not wrong at all. Wilkes-Barre, to me, feels more like a "city" than Scranton does because Wilkes-Barre (as Go Phillies already brilliantly-pointed out), has fallen on much, much harder times than Scranton ever has. After the Great Flood of 1972 much of the city and its inner suburbs laid in ruins. Many middle-class people living in these areas vowed to never endure such a tragedy ever again and began to move out to the mountainous suburban areas (much to the delight of land developers who capitalized upon that growing trend). This is when urban sprawl as we know it began to overtake the Back Mountain and Mountain Top. Bear Creek also saw some of these "refugees" (so to speak), and I thought it was sad that some of the same people who moved to Bear Creek to escape flooding woes back in 1972 were once again picking up the pieces from a freak flash flood out in Bear Creek several years ago.
That was Wilkes-Barre's first "whammy." The next sore spot came with the arrival of the Wyoming Valley Mall and its surrounding chain retailers. Many businesses fled Downtown Wilkes-Barre to follow their consumers out to the suburbs, contributing to downtown becoming a virtual "ghost town" by the mid-1980s. As people and businesses fled the city like the Titanic, big-city thugs saw the reduced property values as an invitation to move into Wilkes-Barre for an inexpensive market to peddle drugs. Crime in the city rose through the 1990s, which forced even more of the middle-class out, leaving mostly only those big-city transplants and those who were not wealthy enough to leave the city to remain. While development in the Back Mountain and Mountain Top slowed in the 1980s, it picked back up in the 1990s as more people moved out of the city to seek lower crime, better schools, and larger yards to the point where the Back Mountain is now 3/4 the size of Wilkes-Barre (pop. 30,000 vs. pop. 40,000) and may eclipse it in terms of population by 2020 or so. Unfortunately, the Back Mountain has not prepared itself too well for this latest wave of sprawl, which has resulted in overcrowded schools, traffic congestion on Route 309, and water runoff issues in a lot of places when trees are felled by housing developers. Hundreds of new lots/homes/townhomes are currently under development in just three subdivisions alone (Yalick Farms, Goodleigh Manor, and Saddle Ridge), and hundreds more are also available in other subdivisions or are in the planning stages. How the already overburdened Dallas School District and Route 309 will be able to accomodate several thousand new residents is beyond my realm of comprehension (they are even exploring the possibility of creating a "rotary" in Downtown Dallas to alleviate congestion).
Wilkes-Barre's downfall probably reached its "climax" several years ago when the modern-looking streetlights that graced its downtown streets since the flood rebuilding efforts began to collapse one by one into the streets, in some cases striking cars and nearly missing pedestrians. It seemed as if not even the infrastructure in the city wanted to cooperate!
Then came Mayor Thomas Leighton, a local real estate executive who ran on the platform of bringing Wilkes-Barre back to its former glory. A few years ago he hinted at something that would be the "biggest announcement in the city's history." The local media swarmed all over this mysterious statement. Could it be The Olympics? Could it be a major high-tech firm coming downtown? Could it be Wilkes-Barre starring in a major movie? Nope. It turns out that the "announcement" was simply the unveiling of his new "I Believe" slogan and logo that he had concocted to combat the rising negativity in the city and to infuse some hope into city residents. I worked at the Lowe's in Wilkes-Barre Township at the time, and this was the topic of everyone's conversations that day amongst both co-workers and customers. After the initial announcement most were "bummed out." They thought the "I Believe" campaign was a stupid idea and that their once-envied mayor had let them all down. However, a few customers I spoke with cautiously supported the mayor, saying that what the city needed more than ever at that point in time was a complete overhaul of its "image." I couldn't agree any more.
Over the past 2-3 years, the city's downtown has been buzzing with activity and reinvestment. The once-feared first two blocks of South Main Street are now lined with restaurants, shops, clubs, etc. A new movie theater graces East Northampton Street, and loft housing is planned nearby. Several massive mixed-use projects are currently underway downtown, along with the revitalization of the city's riverfront into a major recreational and tourist venue. It was also just announced last week that the old Irem Temple (a strikingly-beautiful yet decaying historic building), is going to be rehabilitated to house all sorts of artists' studios, galleries, artisans' workshops, a cafe, etc. (probably similar to the Banana Factory in SouthSide Bethlehem). With all of the redevelopment occurring downtown, people are now less skeptical about the mayor's "I Believe" slogan and are embracing his visions. I now see "I Believe" posters being hung in windows throughout the city---not only in business windows but also in homes as well, which proves to me that even some of the city's own residents are trying to help rebuild its image. If it weren't for the city's continued struggles with violent crime and reputation for a poor public school district, then I think you'd see even more interest in residential relocation to the city, as a lot of the housing stock is affordable, conveniently-located, and easy to renovate. My college friends and I personally love hitting up the new downtown Barnes & Noble, which also features a Starbucks and live music on some evenings. Just across the street is the newer Club Mardi Gras, which has brought students from both the King's and Wilkes campuses together to dance and party. Next-door is Campus Square Billiards, which I've been meaning to hit up for quite some time. Nearby Midtown Village is home to the Katana (Japanese restaurant) and an upcoming Thai restaurant that is being opened by the owners of Thai Rak Thai in Scranton (the owners claim that a large chunk of their business comes from people who currently drive all the way from Wilkes-Barre to Scranton anyways). Just a block down the street are a new Jannuzzi's Pizza, Quizno's, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Bart & Urby's Pub, and more restaurants are planned. Around the corner is the new theater. If it weren't for Wilkes-Barre's relatively-high crime rate, I'd even consider living there myself (this is one of the sole reasons why I've opted for Scranton over Wilkes-Barre).
Scranton, on the other hand, seems to have "plateaued" in terms of downtown development. There are a whole slew of projects on its drawing board (Connell Building, St. Peter's Square, Jefferson Pointe, 500-block of Lackawanna Avenue, Sixth Street, etc.), but all seem to have hit some sort of stumbling block. If they all manage to come to fruition (along with the new medical school and rail service to Hoboken, NJ), then the city is going to take off by leaps and bounds, but WeLuvPA has now thoroughly convinced me to be skeptical of these projects ever becoming a reality. In its current state I like the downtown; there are a lot of niche retailers, independent coffee houses, and ethnic restaurants in Scranton that you simply can't replicate in Dickson City, Wilkes-Barre Township, or Pittston Township, and I think people appreciate the "nostalgia" of being able to walk from store to store just like in the "good 'ole days," as opposed to being forced to drive everywhere in heavy traffic in the suburban shopping areas. Contrary to what some others on this forum will tell you, I have yet to find even one person in real life who doesn't think Downtown Scranton is healthier now than it has been in quite a number of years. My recent epiphany of seeing a new used bookstore and NJ-based restaurant chain also coming to the city in the upcoming months likewise make it all the more attractive to me. Downtown Scranton's problem, in my eyes, is that it is just not very "organized," and it is hard to pinpoint the exact boundaries of it. On the other hand, Wilkes-Barre's downtown is very well-defined and anchored on the north by aptly-named North Street and the King's College campus, on the south by aptly-named South Street and the Wilkes University campus, on the west by the river, and on the east by the multi-lane, high-speed (pedestrian death-trap) known as Wilkes-Barre Boulevard with Public Square being the capstone.
If it were truly up to me, I'd opt to live in Downtown Scranton vs. Downtown Wilkes-Barre. Wilkes-Barre has a more densely-populated, urban flair to it, but the high crime is a definite turn-off. Scranton, on the other hand, has a very low crime rate, but its downtown sprawls out quite a bit in every direction and is poorly-oriented, which gives it the feel of a "big town" as opposed to Wilkes-Barre feeling like a "small city."
Scranton, on the other hand, seems to have "plateaued" in terms of downtown development. There are a whole slew of projects on its drawing board (Connell Building, St. Peter's Square, Jefferson Pointe, 500-block of Lackawanna Avenue, Sixth Street, etc.), but all seem to have hit some sort of stumbling block. If they all manage to come to fruition (along with the new medical school and rail service to Hoboken, NJ), then the city is going to take off by leaps and bounds, but WeLuvPA has now thoroughly convinced me to be skeptical of these projects ever becoming a reality.
I see they finally started the Center St. Plaza project, which was announced back in May of '03 and was supposed to be done in late '04. And this was just a $600,000 project to put a new sidewalk in, replace the asphalt alley with cobblestones and put some new lights up. I can't even imagine those multi-million dollar projects ever getting off the ground, if it took this long to place down cobblestones for $600,000.
Speaking of Projects started and abandoned, what is happening to that beautiful "future hotel site" (The colonnade?) on Mulberry street? They were working on it back in June then everyone disappeared. That is such a gorgeous building, I really hope they finish the job.....
Thats not abandoned. They are in the process of getting angel investors and backing, permits ect. That will be a beautiful building once it is finished and the guys who are doing it are perfect for the job. They are both local gone abroad and see the attributes of the area. That bulding was once owned by AJ Munchaks mom actually. It was once amazing way before my time. The project is not abandoned though, these typ of projects take lots of time before you can take hammer to nail.
For those who live in downtown area Scranton, I want to relocate myself from outer Scranton to downtown. Do they have apartments in the upper sections of any buildings?! Where is a good place to rent?
Weichert Realtors and Semian & Gress Real Estate are two relatively young firms that now have garnered a pretty strong monopoly of Downtown Scranton's market, so I'd consider contacting one (or both) of them to see what they have available. I know Weichert in particular was marketing some luxury loft apartments, but I believe they've all sold. Lofts tend to sell quickly downtown. I myself would love to have one but developers aren't bringing them to the market rapidly enough to keep pace with demand.
The contact information for Weichert Realtors is (570) 341-5000. The contact information for Semian & Gress is (570) 344-6880. A quick online search showed only commercial properties listed downtown, but I'm sure even if they currently don't have any residential listings available they can direct you to someone else in the Greater Scranton Board of Realtors who can assist you.
You may also want to inquire about the Connell Building project, which appears as if it might finally be coming to fruition later this year or next year. It will feature 52 middle-class 1- or 2-bedroom condos ranging from 900 to 1,400 square feet in the old Connell Building along North Washington Avenue (across from 130 Brixx and Vidas Tapas Restaurants).
Here's some more information about this project:
Connell Building (broken link)
As I said earlier there are roughly another half-dozen projects on the horizon to (hopefully) eventually materialize as well that will completely transform the downtown. These projects include but are not limited to the redevelopment of the 500-block of Lackawanna Avenue from blighted space to urban greenspace, shops, galleries, restaurants, and studio apartments, two new high-rise condo towers along Sixth Avenue, a new mixed-use development at St. Peter's Square, and Jefferson Pointe, a multi-story apartment building across from the Radisson Hotel. As many on this forum will point out, we'll be lucky if any come to fruition though. Even the Connell Building project is only materializing now because of government handouts, and the same could be said for the current progress on the 500-block of Lackawanna Avenue.
Developers provide the logical excuse that it costs the same amount of money to bring these projects to Scranton as it would to bring them to Philadelphia or New York City, yet they can only charge a fraction for rent/asking prices that the other cities would garner, hence making it financially unattractive for them to bring developments to the Electric City without incentives to help recoup some of their expenditures. I agree wholeheartedly. Townhomes at suburban Glenmaura Commons are flying like hot cakes and generally sell for $375,000+. Townhomes here in relatively upscale Greater Pittston sell very rapidly, even in the $300,000+ range. but townhomes priced even $100,000 less in the city of Scranton in Green Ridge and the Hill Section (and now Minooka as well) have not been selling due to the city's tarnished reputation. As Scranton's overall "image problem" continues to rebound in the coming years (especially after November 2009, but I digress), you'll see people willing to pay $200,000+ for the convenience of living in the city again. I've grown up in the suburbs, and I HATE having to have my sedan attached to my hip, traveling more than 300 miles per week in my commutes into the cities for college, work, meetings, social gatherings, etc. At least in Scranton even when you can't easily walk to amenities, most are no more than a 5-minute drive away. The opening of a grocery store downtown would be the "capstone" to permit downtown to be a feasible residential neighborhood, which will likewise spur a commercial rebirth as new merchants open to cater to the growing population.
Dan thinks I'm crazy when I say that people would LIKE to live in the city to have conveniences nearby, but as evidenced by myself, you, and several of my friends, the trend of suburbanites trading far-flung cul-de-sacs for tree-lined city streets is a growing one nationwide that is FINALLY trickling down to medium-sized cities like Scranton (and Wilkes-Barre if they ever get their violent crime issues under control). I never understood why someone would pay $400,000+ for a new construction home in South Abington or Waverly when they could find a similarly-appointed home in the city for under $200,000. I'm assuming it must solely involve the "prestige" factor.
Best of luck!
Last edited by SteelCityRising; 02-29-2008 at 02:13 PM..
Reason: Text Spacing
Dan thinks I'm crazy when I say that people would LIKE to live in the city to have conveniences nearby.
I think your crazy because you fell for the bait of the troll.
Paul honestly do you really think that if someone that ALREADY lives here would need to come on a NATIONAL FORUM, sub form to find info about apartments in the downtown of their OWN city, or would they just look in the phone book for realtors in the downtown of THEIR OWN city?
Oh ya and with their very first post and right after they joined.
Not only that, instead of starting a new thread they dug one that was last posted in on September 7th, 2007? How many pages back do you think they were when they found that one?
Trollish, I say.
I also find it hard to believe that anyone would want to move from their neighborhood to the downtown, there still is nothing there and it shuts down by 5:30 everyday and is a dead ghost town on Sundays and they would know that because they already live here.
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