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  #921  
Old Posted Dec 4, 2006, 2:02 AM
donybrx donybrx is offline
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Originally Posted by Ex-Ithacan
I hope some community hero comes forward for the breaker. Hey maybe Mr. Casey will do it. (Just a wishful thought).
I hope so, too. This being the last structure of consequence (there used to be several in Wyoming Valley).....it has the potential to become a significant tourist draw.....the area should certainly capitalize on its mining history---get something for all that grime misery......heh.

Eckley Miners' Village is an intact museum, complete with coal breaker and company houses over Hazelton way...it was used in the film "The Molly McGuire's" starring sean Connery back in the 1970's.
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  #922  
Old Posted Dec 4, 2006, 7:36 PM
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Happy Birthday to Scranton's electric trolley---nation's first----turns 120.
While the system stopped operating a while back..some of it is again running in the form of a trolley museum..with rides to Montage Mountain....

Interesting reading for transit buffs....


12/03/2006
First electric trolley delivered passengers in elegance


The "Electric City" was born 120 years ago, when the first all-electric trolley in the country made its debut.

On November 30, 1886, passengers boarded the trolley at the Academy of Music, opposite St. Luke’s Church on Wyoming Avenue, where they had been attending a lecture by renowned British explorer Henry M. Stanley. Readers may recall that Mr. Stanley discovered the long-missing Dr. Livingston in Africa. From the lecture, the excited passengers followed the route from Wyoming Avenue up Spruce Street past the new courthouse, onto Adams Avenue, up the steepest hill on the route, and on to the Green Ridge section, where the route ended. The trip cost 5 cents.

The Green Ridge section was then considered a suburb of Scranton, and the company named itself Scranton Suburban Railway Co. Passengers rode in elegance. The Pullman cars were the finest ever built. Measuring 16 feet, they seated 13 people on either side of the aisle. The front platform was enclosed, and the cars were painted a deep maroon. Passengers entered from the rear. The mahogany interiors were lit by incandescent electric lamps, another exciting new innovation.

The Dec. 1, 1886, issue of The Scranton Republican newspaper reported on the passenger trip: “The cars at times yesterday attained a speed of twelve miles an hour, but can be made to go much faster. It looks as though Scranton has solved the rapid transit problem.”

Scranton’s was not the first electric railway in the country, but it was the first one in the world built to run solely on electric power. In those early days of electricity, it was truly a marvel. The Dec. 18, 1886, issue of the journal Electrical World featured a story on it. The company was organized with Mr. Edward B. Sturges as president and Col. George Sanderson as secretary.

The men who organized and built the Suburban gave this city a much-needed and highly-touted innovation. Construction of the road for the new Suburban line was begun on July 6, 1886, and completed in Green Ridge in November. The railway system was equipped with its electrical apparatus by the Van DePoele Electric Manufacturing Co. C.E. Flynn installed the electrical equipment. The current was generated by a 60-horsepower generator. The motor was located on the front platform in constant sight of the driver, who handled the crank, turning the current on or off and regulating the speed of the motor. Cars traveled at a rate of between 4 and 15 mph.

The railway company paid a fee of $9 per day to the electric power company, and the cars ran along this route from 7 a.m. to midnight.

A trial run was made on Nov. 29, with Mr. Van DePoele himself at the controls and Mr. Flynn in charge of the motor. The test run showed slight defects in the system, which were quickly fixed, and the following evening’s passenger run was a success.

The electric cars were a great improvement over the horse-driven trolleys. Businessmen from Providence and Dunmore wasted as much as two hours traveling by horse-drawn trolley, along roads that were often rutted and muddy. In winter, snow delayed travel or made it impossible. The fare for a trip on the horse-drawn trolley was 25 cents.

From its initial Scranton to Green Ridge run, the electric trolley spread. The railway company once operated 110 miles of track in and around Scranton, and a passenger could hop a car every 15 minutes.

Sadly, the electric trolley system declined and then ended.

On Dec. 18, 1954, George Miller operated the very last trolley ride, taking passengers home to Green Ridge along the very same route taken by the first passenger run.

Cheryl A. Kashuba is assistant to the director of the Lackawanna Historical Society and co-author of the book “Scranton.”
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  #923  
Old Posted Dec 4, 2006, 10:46 PM
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DT Wilkes-Barre condos proposed; trendy, urban and chic? wow...never thought this concept would be run up the pole, let alone considered....sweet hayseuss.......!!!!


12/04/2006
Wilkes-Barre plans upscale condos in KOZ
BY WADE MALCOLM
STAFF WRITER


WILKES-BARRE — Trendy, urban and chic. Three words not often used to describe living in this city.

And, as any resident who has looked at his paycheck stub lately could attest, here’s another term not associated with life in Wilkes-Barre: tax-free.

All four terms could be applicable for a fortunate few when construction is completed on loft-style condominiums at several sites in the city.

Developers intend to transform parts of at least three sites designated as Keystone Opportunity Zones into upscale dwellings.

Just like any business in a KOZ site, residential occupants would have all of their local and state taxes abated after living in the site for 184 days.

That could be a sizable tax incentive for a high-paid professional owning an upscale condo, like the ones the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry plans to develop in the new theater complex.

The chamber plans to use 30,000 square feet on two floors to construct about 28 residential units, said Larry Newman, vice president of community and economic development, adding that the date of completion and the asking price for the units has not been determined.

Even at a conservative estimate of $100 per square foot, however, a 1,000-square-foot loft would go for more than $100,000.

An individual living in a KOZ site and making the median income for a family in Wilkes-Barre, around $36,000, would have saved about $4,800 this year in state wage taxes, local wage taxes, local property taxes and county property taxes.

The potential for hefty tax breaks could be enough to make some residents wonder why they should have to pay taxes when some wealthier people won’t.

“I understand the complaint,” said Lee Namey, northeastern region coordinator for the KOZ program.

“I understand that the criticism by some is, ‘I live in this community, and I don’t benefit from this. I live in the community, and I pay taxes, and why would this person next to me not have to?’”

Mr. Namey, though, believes everyone in the city will benefit from new residents, who will boost the economy by spending more money downtown.

“You can get people into your community that you wouldn’t be able to before,” he said. “It is worthwhile to give someone a tax break to get them in the community.”

Someone looking to purchase a loft-style condo in the city will have more options than just the theater complex in the next few years.

Daniel Siniawa and Associates plan to convert the Murray industrial complex on Pennsylvania Avenue into 62 loft condominiums by next fall.

Though a completion date hasn’t been determined, the lofts created by the Sterling project would probably be owner-occupied as well, said Alex Rogers, executive director of CityVest, the nonprofit group developing the site.

In attracting buyers, CityVest plans to market the tax benefits.

“We anticipate it will be an additional attraction to the property,” he said.

Economic development officials believe it is about “priming the pump.” When the KOZ program expires at the end of 2010, the new residents will still be living in the city — and will start paying taxes.

Contact the writer: wmalcolm@citizensvoice.com
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  #924  
Old Posted Dec 4, 2006, 10:47 PM
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DT Wilkes-Barre condos proposed; trendy, urban and chic? wow...never thought this concept would be run up the pole, let alone considered....sweet hayseuss.......!!!!


12/04/2006
Wilkes-Barre plans upscale condos in KOZ
BY WADE MALCOLM
STAFF WRITER


WILKES-BARRE — Trendy, urban and chic. Three words not often used to describe living in this city.

And, as any resident who has looked at his paycheck stub lately could attest, here’s another term not associated with life in Wilkes-Barre: tax-free.

All four terms could be applicable for a fortunate few when construction is completed on loft-style condominiums at several sites in the city.

Developers intend to transform parts of at least three sites designated as Keystone Opportunity Zones into upscale dwellings.

Just like any business in a KOZ site, residential occupants would have all of their local and state taxes abated after living in the site for 184 days.

That could be a sizable tax incentive for a high-paid professional owning an upscale condo, like the ones the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry plans to develop in the new theater complex.

The chamber plans to use 30,000 square feet on two floors to construct about 28 residential units, said Larry Newman, vice president of community and economic development, adding that the date of completion and the asking price for the units has not been determined.

Even at a conservative estimate of $100 per square foot, however, a 1,000-square-foot loft would go for more than $100,000.

An individual living in a KOZ site and making the median income for a family in Wilkes-Barre, around $36,000, would have saved about $4,800 this year in state wage taxes, local wage taxes, local property taxes and county property taxes.

The potential for hefty tax breaks could be enough to make some residents wonder why they should have to pay taxes when some wealthier people won’t.

“I understand the complaint,” said Lee Namey, northeastern region coordinator for the KOZ program.

“I understand that the criticism by some is, ‘I live in this community, and I don’t benefit from this. I live in the community, and I pay taxes, and why would this person next to me not have to?’”

Mr. Namey, though, believes everyone in the city will benefit from new residents, who will boost the economy by spending more money downtown.

“You can get people into your community that you wouldn’t be able to before,” he said. “It is worthwhile to give someone a tax break to get them in the community.”

Someone looking to purchase a loft-style condo in the city will have more options than just the theater complex in the next few years.

Daniel Siniawa and Associates plan to convert the Murray industrial complex on Pennsylvania Avenue into 62 loft condominiums by next fall.

Though a completion date hasn’t been determined, the lofts created by the Sterling project would probably be owner-occupied as well, said Alex Rogers, executive director of CityVest, the nonprofit group developing the site.

In attracting buyers, CityVest plans to market the tax benefits.

“We anticipate it will be an additional attraction to the property,” he said.

Economic development officials believe it is about “priming the pump.” When the KOZ program expires at the end of 2010, the new residents will still be living in the city — and will start paying taxes.

Contact the writer: wmalcolm@citizensvoice.com
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  #925  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 12:42 AM
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Once again, Wilkes-Barre seems to be a leader in urban revival for smaller northeast cities. Amazing.
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  #926  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 1:52 AM
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^^^ Heck dony, I missed the post about the Electric Trolley. A sign next to the courthouse:




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  #927  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 3:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Ex-Ithacan
Once again, Wilkes-Barre seems to be a leader in urban revival for smaller northeast cities. Amazing.
well...... we shall see how it goes over the next two critical years......I'm one of many keeping fingers crossed and I think you are too, EX.......
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  #928  
Old Posted Dec 5, 2006, 11:41 AM
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^ Got that right dony.
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  #929  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2006, 8:24 PM
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^ and I rest assured...in that knowlededge...'deed I do . You're a good 'un.

one other note: a falsie regarding the Huber coal breaker...it isn't under pressure from any buyer....only an overzealous real estate agent...go figger...
link to dramatic tale....heh

http://www.timesleader.com/mld/times...printstory.jsp
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  #930  
Old Posted Dec 6, 2006, 11:36 PM
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Dateline Scrant'un: The Sorvinos have landed...filming begins.....


12/02/2006
Film crew’s welcome hospitable, if a bit wet
BY ROGER DUPUIS II
STAFF WRITER

Montreal-born actress Laurence Leboeuf is enjoying her sojourn in Scranton, but even one who has bested Canadian winters was a little afraid of Friday’s wild weather

“Do you have tornadoes here?” asked the 20-year-old, who’s playing the title character in Paul Sorvino’s film, “The Trouble with Cali,” now being shot in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Tornadoes or not, Miss Leboeuf is impressed with what she’s seen of Scranton and its environs so far. “I love it. I think it’s really charming,” she said.

If her impressions are any indication, it would seem the region already is playing its role in the film to the hilt.

The cast and a crew of more than 100 created a whirlwind of their own at the Clay Avenue residence that’s standing in as Cali’s home, portraying a bit of quintessentially American suburbia.

The film is not set in Scranton. Other regional locations will be used as stand-ins for New York City and small-town America.

On Friday, the team’s efforts were centered on the rambling stucco-covered house in Scranton’s Hill Section. An array of equipment trucks and vans lined the block, from a fully stocked catering trailer to mobile dressing rooms.

The project, anticipated to cost about $1.5 million, received $500,000 in funding from Lackawanna County.

Presiding over it all was Mr. Sorvino himself, jumping between his own roles as actor and director. “A movie set is a frenetic place,” he said during a break.

Mr. Sorvino, who plays Cali’s father, was in the process of shooting a scene between himself and real-life daughter Mira, playing a role credited as the “balletmaster.”

“There are so many different elements,” he said, as stagehands traipsed back and forth through the kitchen carrying all manner of equipment.

Homeowners Bob and Alice Thiel stood in the wings, watching with amusement.

“It’s that Scranton hospitality,” Mr. Thiel said, when asked what prompted him to open up his home to the production. Also, he is a longtime friend both to Mr. Sorvino and the actor’s local publicist, Bill McAndrew.

The couple said they were told shooting on their property will take a week or two. Unlike some homes in the neighborhood, the Thiel house remains a single-family home, with 15 rooms for the movie crew to eye for scenes.

The movie will tell the tale of Cali Bluejones, a 15-year-old girl with dreams of escaping her dysfunctional family in favor of the glitz and glamor of the modeling industry.

Her pursuit goes awry, however, when she falls prey to promises from a hustler, played by Mr. Sorvino’s son, Michael, who entangles the youth “in his own homicidal fantasy,” according to promotional material.

The screenplay was written by another Sorvino daughter, Amanda.

Buildings at the University of Scranton will stand in for the prestigious Juilliard School, while the inside of the Scranton Cultural Center will masquerade as the foyer of a Broadway theater. Farther afield are scenes at a Factoryville horse farm, Wilkes University and Dunmore Cemetery. Ninety-five percent of the film is to be shot around Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Mr. Sorvino said all shooting should wrap up by Dec. 23. He has said he’d like to finish editing the piece by early 2007.

For Miss Leboeuf, who will turn 21 during the film shoot, those short weeks of filming loom large, a dream come true.

“I’m still in shock,” she said of the opportunity to work with the Oscar-winning Mira Sorvino, with whom she starred in the 2005 television drama “Human Trafficking,” about the black-market trade in young women.

“I’m here, doing what I love, with amazing actors I respect,” she said.

Contact the writer: rdupuis@timesshamrock.com
‘Cali’ shooting in city

WHAT: Production of Paul Sorvino’s film, “The Trouble with Cali,” is under way around Northeastern Pennsylvania.

WHERE: Crews on Friday were shooting at a Clay Avenue home in Scranton. Other area sites will be used in the shooting, which is set to wrap up by Christmas.

WHO: Mr. Sorvino, son Michael and daughter Mira are among the stars. The lead role is played by 20-year-old Canadian actress Laurence Leboeuf.

WHY: Mr. Sorvino, friends with late Scranton actor and playwright Jason Miller, sees Scranton as a believable — and inexpensive — stand-in for New York City and small-town America.

COST: Lackawanna County gave $500,000 to the production, expected to cost $1.5 million.
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  #931  
Old Posted Dec 7, 2006, 8:37 PM
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AT Last!!!!!

12/07/2006
New clubs, eatery transforming downtown night life
BY DENISE ALLABAUGH
STAFF WRITER


WILKES-BARRE — The downtown has finally come alive after years of looking like a ghost town.
New clubs Fuse in Midtown Village, Bart & Urby’s Downtown Bar & Bistro and Club Mardi Gras on South Main Street have joined Barnes and Noble joint college bookstore and the $30 million theater project in drawing foot traffic and creating a night life downtown. Police presence has increased and the streets have been illuminated with historic lights.

Business at the trendy new Bart & Urby’s Downtown Bar and Bistro at 115-119 S. Main St. has been “mind-blowing,” co-owner Brian Urbanas said on Wednesday.

When he and his cousin, Eric Bartoletti, purchased the former Empire Beauty School for $100,000 four years ago to open their business, the downtown was dead, but they knew it would come back to life. They were right. They are preparing for an official grand opening Friday, Dec. 15 to showcase their business, which features a dinner menu, a bar and entertainment.

Urbanas, 27, and Bartoletti, 33, struggled to get a loan to open the new business since they were young and did not have huge assets.

“We knew for years there were a lot of projects coming,” Urbanas said. “At that time, the buildings downtown were cheap compared to now. Now, it’s four times the amount. Four years ago, it was bad here. It was like southeast Philadelphia. It was scary. Now, there are no problems. Business is amazing. The dinner crowd has been huge.”

Urbanas witnessed a major transformation downtown as soon as the historic street lights were turned on.

“The cockroaches left. They had nowhere to hide anymore,” Urbanas said. “People are enjoying the fact that they can go downtown. There are three new bars and this is only the beginning.”

Ron Romanoski, 33, a former financial specialist on Public Square, decided to change careers and invest in the new Fuse martini club at the site of the closed Cafe Rouge in Midtown Village. Romanoski plans to open a daytime cafe next month. His club is decorated with paintings from local artist from Arts YOUniverse on South Franklin Street.

“It’s a great time to be part of the downtown. Revitalization has taken place,” Romanoski said.

Romanoski is renting his location from Humford Equities. Rob Finlay, president of Humford Equities, is pleased that an “entertainment district” has been created downtown. He is trying to attract a new upscale restaurant to Midtown Village.

Wilkes-Barre Police Chief Gerry Dessoye said since the new businesses opened, there have been fewer arrests downtown.

“We made more public drunkenness arrests before the new clubs opened,” said Dessoye. “Before the bars opened, there were derelicts hanging around with no particular purpose. Now, there’s legitimate foot traffic down there and we’re seeing less problems. I think any new business is a good thing.”

Naoto Suzuki, co-owner of the Katana Japanese restaurant in Midtown Village, said his business has improved with all the new developments. He hopes a variety of more restaurants will follow. He has been located downtown for the last 15 years.

“I want to see Italian and Chinese restaurants, so when people come downtown, they have a choice.” Suzuki said. “I want more people to come downtown.”

dallabaugh@citizensvoice.com





©The Citizens Voice 2006
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  #932  
Old Posted Dec 7, 2006, 8:50 PM
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12/07/2006
Gaming contest turning into war
BY MICHAEL RACE
HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF


Some in Poconos asking how much growth is too much
HARRISBURG — The heated battle for Pennsylvania’s remaining slots licenses is starting to look like a casino arms race, with applicants promising to build posh “destination resorts” that will top the competition.

Advertisement


Consider the two casinos being pitched for Monroe County.

Pocono Manor Resort and Casino would have slot machines in its 750-room hotel in Tobyhanna Township, but visitors also could golf, shoot skeet, ride horses and ski nearby. Its amenities would include seven restaurants, three nightclubs, convention space, a 12-acre manmade lake and an indoor/outdoor pool.

In nearby Paradise Township, Dunmore developer Louis DeNaples is envisioning the Mount Airy Resort as not just a slots parlor and 400-room hotel, but also a place where you could take a swim, relax in a spa, shop, dine, golf and hold business gatherings.

Draw to gamblers

“In this industry, bigger is better,” said Greg Matzel, who hopes to land a coveted slots license for the Pocono Manor project.

It’s all part of the gambling industry’s never-ending quest to “build a better mousetrap,” according to Alan Woinski, editor of the Gaming Industry Daily Report. It’s a mentality he said has its roots in the booming Las Vegas region.

“Nowadays, there’s no such thing anymore as a ‘hotel casino’ in Vegas,” Mr. Woinski said. “It’s no longer just a place to go and gamble.”

To that end, Las Vegas casinos typically include upscale retailers, restaurants, nightclubs and concert halls, all meant to draw what Mr. Woinski characterizes as the “high-end gambler” who has disposable income for more than games of chance.

It works in Vegas, but Mr. Woinski is among those who openly questions whether it will work here.

“There’s a lot of risk in that,” he said of the grandiose business model.

He believes Pennsylvania’s fledgling casino industry would be better off building from a smaller scale, rather than immediately trying to compete for customers with Atlantic City and Connecticut casinos. But his opinion seems to be at odds with those hoping to run slots parlors here.

In the Lehigh Valley, one slots applicant is planning a 300-room hotel with shops, restaurants and a movie theater, while another is proposing a 250-room hotel with similar offerings.

The most modest proposal is near Gettysburg, where businessman David LeVan has proposed a slots venue that has 225 hotel rooms, a spa, restaurants and limited shopping.

Those five applicants are vying for just two slots licenses between them, and the 2004 law that legalized gambling restricts who can land those licenses. The Gambling Control Board cannot give out licenses to any two entities within 20 miles of each other.

That means Monroe County and the Lehigh Valley could each get no more than one of the licenses, leaving just three scenarios when the board awards licenses Dec. 20:


Licenses would go to one project in the Poconos and one in the Lehigh Valley.


Licenses would go to one project in the Poconos and the Gettysburg project.


Licenses would go to Gettysburg and the Lehigh Valley, shutting out the Poconos.

The competition has become so intense that applicants have been making unflattering references to each other during recent licensing hearings before the Gaming Board.

Pocono Manor officials, for instance, have openly questioned Mount Airy’s revenue projections. Mount Airy officials, in turn, voiced “grave concerns” about the traffic and wastewater plans for Mount Pocono. Developers of a casino plan in Bethlehem suggested a competing project in Allentown could pose a “conflict of interest” because its backers also own the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City.

“It sounds like desperation. It sounds like people are nervous,” said David La Torre, spokesman for the Crossroads Gaming Resort & Spa near Gettysburg, which also has been the target of some unflattering remarks from other slots applicants.

The rhetoric is likely to heat up next week, when both Crossroads and the Allentown area’s Tropicana project have hearings before the board.

DeNaples update

Mr. DeNaples will have to wait until next week to see if he has been deemed a suitable candidate for a slots license.

The Gaming Board had hoped to formally close the record on Mount Airy’s public hearing Wednesday. Instead, the board held a closed-door “executive session” to discuss the Mount Airy application with Mr. DeNaples, the third such meeting this week.

Board Chairman Tad Decker said the private meetings were to discuss items “of a confidential nature” pertaining to the Mount Airy application. The slots law allows the board to convene into executive session to consider any “confidential documents relative to personal background information provided to the board.”

Mount Airy spokesman Kevin Feeley cast the closed-door meetings as information-gathering sessions on Mr. DeNaples’ vast financial holdings, which consist of some 90 businesses with a combined value of about $2 billion.

“He has a staggering array of business interest, and it takes time to go through all that,” he said.

Mr. DeNaples’ application for a non-track slots license is unique because it is the only one that would be held by an individual, rather than a team of investors and business interests.

Contact the writer: mrace@timesshamrock.com
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  #933  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 12:20 PM
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^^ for the at last article
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  #934  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 11:19 PM
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Wilkes University deepens its physical connection to Central City Wilkes-Barre:
12+ story apartment tower will accommodate 400 students.....
--------------------------------------------------------
Posted on Thu, Dec. 07, 2006
Wilkes closes deal on apartment high-rise

WILKES-BARRE – Wilkes University closed an $8.1 million deal Thursday on an apartment high-rise that will serve as a residential hub for students.

The university purchased the building known as Ten East South Street from JPJR Ten E. South Tower, LP, an affiliate of Trivest Realty Group, LLC of Washington Crossing, Pa. for $8,190,000.

University Towers currently houses 200 students and about 30 non-student residents. Those who live in the building, but do not attend classes at Wilkes, will have their current leases honored, but university officials have said the plan is to phase out non-student residents.

At its peak, the university expects some 400 students to live in the 130-unit apartment complex.

The purchase generated $245,000 in transfer taxes for the city of Wilkes-Barre and the state. Wilkes is expected to spend an additional $1.7 million in health and safety renovations, repairs to the building’s elevator systems and other improvements.






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

© 2006 Times Leader and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.timesleader.com
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  #935  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2006, 11:37 PM
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Sounds like a good investment for the school. Will this take the property off the city tax rolls? Ithaca has a ton of property not on the rolls, and it can cause some concerns, ie. fewer folks paying for more services.
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  #936  
Old Posted Dec 9, 2006, 3:41 AM
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^^^The city will get $245K in transfer taxes, beyond that, I don't know. If memory serves, this tower was some kind of subsidized thing from the gitgo...like a church sponsored project for the elderly and not likely taxable anyway......it's a very nice looking red brick tower, however......decent design...
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  #937  
Old Posted Dec 9, 2006, 3:44 AM
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^ No harm, no foul I guess. Besides, the young student tenants will add some life to the area. (as opposed to us old coots dony )
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  #938  
Old Posted Dec 9, 2006, 1:01 PM
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^^^^who yew callin' a ole coot? heh....
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  #939  
Old Posted Dec 9, 2006, 6:47 PM
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This is especially painful.......damn!


12/09/2006
Sterling tower nearly gone
BY TIM GULLA
STAFF WRITER


WILKES-BARRE — Brick-by-brick demolition of the 14-story Hotel Sterling tower will soon come to an end.

Heavy equipment will be arriving within the next few weeks to make short work of a building that has so far been halved by hand, said Alex Rogers, executive director of the non-profit group CityVest, which is trying to restore the Sterling site to productive use.

While Rogers rarely talks about timelines, he said it’s likely the tower will be completely gone from Wilkes-Barre’s skyline by mid-January.

Work on the demolition began in August but has been slow. Initial plans to hoist a bucket loader to the building’s upper floors were scrapped because the flooring couldn’t support the weight of the machinery, forcing demolition crews to use a more time-consuming method — hand tools.

Plans had always called for the use of heavy, ground-based equipment to knock the building down once crews lopped off the top eight floors, though.

The Sterling’s tower, which was added to the Hotel Sterling in the 1920s, is now only seven stories high and crews should shave the building down to the sixth floor within the next 10 to 14 days, Rogers said.

CityVest is focusing its efforts on restoring the 114-year-old Hotel Sterling, returning it to commercial and residential use.

Rogers said 95 percent of the environmental work on the original hotel building and surrounding buildings is complete and architects will releasing new floor plans early in 2007.

Interior demolition on the original Hotel Sterling building is complete on five of its floors and in its basement.

“They’re now completing work on the first and second floors,” he said. “You would see this selective demolition work completed with sensitivity to preserving the building’s important features, such as the balcony on the second floor and the lobby area.”

The once-grand hotel had been carved up over the years, turned into one-room apartments, and ultimately fell into serious disrepair as its former owners filed for bankruptcy. When CityVest purchased the Sterling at a 2002 tax sale, the building had already become the largest pigeon coop in the city.

Marketing of the building will begin after the new floor plans are unveiled. CityVest plans to use the upper floors of the historic building as condominiums and wants them to be owner-ocuppied.

tgulla@citizensvoice.com
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  #940  
Old Posted Dec 9, 2006, 10:23 PM
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I wish the article would have included a before/after shot.
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