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Old 08-26-2006, 07:00 PM
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,587 posts, read 71,723,190 times
Reputation: 17356


I thought those of you with an interest in relocating to Northeastern Pennsylvania, more specifically the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, would be interested in the latest economic development headlines to come across the media radar here in the Electric City. Stay tuned for continued thread updates!
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Old 08-26-2006, 07:05 PM
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,587 posts, read 71,723,190 times
Reputation: 17356
Smile Connell Building Makeover (Scranton Times Article)

For Charles A. Connell, the restoration of his family’s namesake on North Washington Avenue will burnish a faded family legacy. For Scranton, the $17.2 million project will bring life to the city’s largest office building and help revitalize the downtown by getting people to live there.

Developer John Wolfington, joined by state and city officials Friday, announced details of the long anticipated renovation of the Connell Building, at 129 North Washington Ave. The development will include ground-level retail targeting cafes, a grocery market, a bookstore and boutiques. The second and third floors will be Class A office space. Floors four through eight will house about 50 condominiums starting at more than $200,000.

Work on the Connell Building may begin by the end of the year, Mr. Wolfington said.

On a blocked-off street in front of the building, Gov. Ed Rendell delivered an oversized $5 million check symbolizing the last piece of financing for the project. The majority of the project is privately funded.

Mr. Connell, a retired financier, came from suburban Harrisburg to visit the building. He is considering buying the first condo as a gesture of support.

His great-great-uncle, William Connell, built the office building in 1886. An immigrant from Canada, Mr. Connell founded the Scranton Tribune and the Third National Bank and served as a representative to the United States Congress.

“Though my family hasn’t owned the building for decades, it has strong sentimental value for us,” Mr. Connell said. “This building has seen better days, and it will see better days.”

With plenty of available office space and storefronts downtown, the Connell building project is unique because it will increase the number of downtown residents.

“We’ve become a 24-hour city,” said Mayor Chris Doherty. “People will choose to live here.”

While Scranton has added new stores and jobs, downtowns need residents to be successful, Gov. Rendell said.

Onlookers were bullish on the prospects for the building.

Scranton Realtor George Semian, owner of nearby Semian & Gress Real Estate, said given the demand for new apartments charging $800 or $900 per month with no tax benefit, the $1,200 mortgage on a condo is an attractive alternative.

Ken Marquis, owner of The Casey Laundry building between Adams and N. Washington avenues, said the condos will sell. His building includes three luxury units that he rents for more than $1,000 a month.

“You can have condos in Glenmaura, and the Lofts at the Mill, but there are people who want to live right downtown,” he said. “There is a market.”

One issue developers are still working on is parking, or the lack of it. The landlocked building has no parking but Mr. Wolfington said he would negotiate with the city for guaranteed spots in the city parking garages.

Mr. Wolfington of West Conshohocken-based Greystone Capital Partners, has yet to realize any of his ambitious plans in the region since discovering Northeastern Pennsylvania. He looks for dilapidated, abandoned properties and renovates them in public-private partnerships.

Mr. Wolfington purchased the former Northrop Grumman facility in Benton Township from Corning Inc. in 2003. Although he outlined ambitious plans for a high-technology business park with hundreds of high-paying jobs, Mr. Wolfington has done nothing with the facility or the land.

He said yesterday he was pursing other alternatives for the property. He has listed the property for sale and is negotiating with two possible tenants.

In Lehman Township, Pike County, Mr. Wolfington and partners hope to develop an age-restricted 6,000-home development called Highlands Village. Mr. Wolfington said roads and utilities are being built for the project.
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Old 08-26-2006, 07:10 PM
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,587 posts, read 71,723,190 times
Reputation: 17356
Smile Scranton Medical School (Scranton Times)

Organizers are close to choosing a site for the proposed Medical College of Northeastern Pennsylvania, a key leader said Tuesday.

A handful of appealing sites, in or near downtown Scranton, have been highlighted, and the front-runner is the Howard Johnson property at 320 Franklin Ave., along with the former Holiday Manor nursing home across the street.

“If we don’t find any obstacles with respect to this property, this is probably where we will end up,” said Robert Naismith, Ph.D., a local businessman and president of the Northeast Pennsylvania Medical Education Development Consortium. “Our preference would be to see if we could get this site.”

At this point, however, that’s not a sure thing. The final decision is likely weeks away, because consultants are evaluating at least four sites, he said.

Location has been an open question since the recent release of a feasibility study that predicted a medical school could stimulate economic activity and revitalize its surrounding community.

With that in mind, many local businesses and institutions would be happy to claim the medical school as their neighbor, and are waiting to see where it will land.

Initial design plans called for a 180,000-square-foot development on about 3 acres.

That’s an exact fit for the combined 1.9-acre Howard Johnson property and the 1.1-acre Holiday Manor site.

Tobyhanna Army Depot Federal Credit Union owns the rights to the Holiday Manor site’s mortgage but is meeting with Mayor Chris Doherty in a couple weeks to discuss adapting it for the medical school’s use, said James Kanaley, the credit union’s chief executive officer.

The credit union currently plans to use it for a drive-through branch and employee parking.

As it decides, the consortium has placed a “purchase option” on the Howard Johnson property, reserving its right to buy it later if it chooses, Dr. Naismith said.

It will place similar options on some of the other properties being evaluated.

Consortium members with medical backgrounds tend to favor another proposed site, a square block between Mercy and Moses Taylor hospitals in the Hill Section.

There would be medical benefits to having the school right next to two hospitals, said James May, president and chief executive of Mercy Hospital.

“It really creates a community of medicine all together, so you don’t have any separation,” said Mr. May, who is also a member of the consortium.

Another site receiving serious consideration is the former Central Railroad of New Jersey freight station land across the Lackawanna Avenue bridge, next to North Sixth Avenue, Dr. Naismith said. About 7.5 acres are available there.

The school also could be part of the Mount Pleasant Corporate Center, an office park development planned near West Linden Street and North 7th Avenue, just off the North Scranton Expressway, Dr. Naismith said.

“We still have not ruled out other possibilities,” Dr. Naismith added.
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Old 08-26-2006, 07:11 PM
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,587 posts, read 71,723,190 times
Reputation: 17356
Smile St. Peter's Square (Scranton Times)

A couple of restaurants, a beauty salon and at least one boutique clothing store are expected to open for business this fall along Linden Street and Wyoming Avenue as completion nears in the first phase of the St. Peter’s Square development.

“We are moving right along,” said Jerry Joyce, the Scranton businessman behind the $50 million project. “The restaurants, beauty salon and boutiques will be up and running within 90 days, and the rest of the project should be completed next summer.”

Mr. Joyce declined to name the businesses that would occupy the buildings.

The demolition of buildings in the area, which began in March, is mostly complete.

Workers have also begun paving sidewalks and plans have accelerated in the project that is expected to help revitalize downtown.

The site, which now contains mostly unoccupied commercial buildings and a parking lot, will eventually be an L-shaped series of connected five- and six-story buildings.

“The block has been completely blighted, and this project is going to change all of that,” said Mayor Chris Doherty, adding that the project would be an immediate financial boon for the city because it is not KOZ-designated. KOZ projects receive tax breaks for locating in distressed areas.

With the creation of upscale condominiums as part of the plans, the project is expected to attract middle-class residents who will make the downtown their new home, said Mr. Joyce. Of the 100 condominiums, ranging from 1,800- to 3,200-square feet, 60 will be sold for about $335,000; the remaining 40 will be rented for an undetermined price.

As its name suggests, St. Peter’s Square would be constructed in similar design to the brick and sandstone St. Peter’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Diocese of Scranton. The finished project is also expected to have rooftop gardens, underground parking and the condos will have balconies overlooking the street or courtyard.

While most of the buildings would be five stories tall, at the corner it would rise to six stories overlooking a public courtyard with a fountain. The ground level would have retail and service businesses under blue half-moon awnings; upper levels would be residential.

The key to success for downtown Scranton is lining up high-end boutiques rather than predictable outlets found in any other city, Mr. Joyce said, adding the city has already seen a push in that direction with the opening of stores like Poochie pet boutique and Lavish skin care boutique on Spruce Street.

Mr. Joyce founded Patrick Media Group in 1970; the company was sold for $500 million to Lamar Advertising in 1995. He later founded Next Generation Network of Minneapolis, a digital billboard company, which he has sold.

Although he has developed just one project, the Lofts at the Mill apartments near Nay Aug Park, Mr. Joyce has been attempting to develop other mixed-use projects downtown.

“I had to complete the lofts project before I could get to St. Peter’s,” Mr. Joyce said. “Now, I’m dedicating all of my energy to St. Peter’s Square, and we’re going to get it done.”
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Old 08-26-2006, 07:20 PM
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,587 posts, read 71,723,190 times
Reputation: 17356
Smile Another Note on Mr. Joyce

It should also be stated that once St. Peter's Square is off the ground, Mr. Joyce, along with Normany Holdings LLP, are planning to develop a new project called "Jefferson Pointe", another downtown mixed-use project across the street from the Scranton Radisson and adjacent to the Scranton Hilton.
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