^^ Thanks EX-I.....seems pretty much along the lines of a few other recent interviews/ accounts that I've read/ watched. .......
Up the road a piece in Wilkes-Barre here's some promising news for Downtown: A building doubled in value in eight months..... a reason to celebrate for sure, but not to uncross those fingers quite yet....
Posted on Tue, Nov. 21, 2006
Official hails W-B building’s sale
Structure by new theater sells for $395,000 only eight months after being bought for $200,000.
By JERRY LYNOTT firstname.lastname@example.org
WILKES-BARRE – The nearly doubling in selling price of a downtown building may be an extreme example of the effect the city’s revitalization is having on property values, a chamber official said Monday.
The former American Furniture building on East Northampton Street sold for $395,000 on Nov. 9, eight months after an Allentown developer paid $200,000 for the property, according to data from the Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds office.
The new owner, Sterling Ventures LLC of Great Falls, Va., plans to lease out the property, which is located across the street from R/C Wilkes-Barre Movies 14.
“I think we’re seeing speculation,” said Michael Lombardo, acting president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry.
Other property sales have seen more moderate increases, Lombardo said.
He acknowledged that the interest is “based in reality and some confidence” created by the downtown revitalization that includes marquee projects such as the theater complex, the Barnes & Noble college bookstore and other private investments such as Club Mardi Gras and the Campus Square Billiards.
A call to Ron Coleman, who purchased the property in March with plans to create a food court and café, was not returned.
A press release from the new owner said the purchase is an investment in the future of the downtown.
Gary Pan, president and chief executive officer for Panacea Consulting, said its sister company, Sterling Ventures, will refurbish the façade and interior and lease the property as a restaurant, retail store or office space.
Panacea formerly employed 110 people in a folder service operation for the Social Security Administration at Courtright Street in Plains Township. The downtown building purchase is in line with Panacea’s philosophy of investing in the community where it does business. The company had made donations to charitable organizations and encouraged employee volunteerism, the release said.
The chamber has not dealt with Panacea or Sterling Ventures, Lombardo said.
Its focus has been talking to others about coming downtown.
“We’re at what I call the second round of talking to potential clients,” Lombardo added.
Those conversations are different from the initial ones. “It’s a less of a sell,” he said. “It’s less the upfront show why you need to be there. I think they’ve already figured this out.”
The chamber is working on “trying to finalize some leases at the theater,” he said. The timeframe to complete that is July of next year.
The numbers in the American Furniture building are high, but they need not price people out of the market. “You’ll always have extreme cases,” he said. “If someone really wants to come, we can find them space.”
Jerry Lynott, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7237.