from here: http://www.scrantontimes.com/article...70953_top4.txt
Mulberry Place blooming
BY JAMES HAGGERTY
Published: Saturday, March 14, 2009
Updated: Saturday, March 14, 2009 4:14 AM EDT
A $7 million renovation project that will create new jobs and clean up an eyesore intersection leading into downtown Scranton is moving forward.
“Mulberry Street is going to be completely cleaned up,” George Semian, broker and owner at Semian & Gress Real Estate, predicted after a group he heads completed the purchase Thursday of the former Crystal Soda Water Co. headquarters at 421 Franklin Ave., for $695,000. Paperwork on the sale was filed Friday.
Plans call for development of Mulberry Place, which will house Mr. Semian’s real estate agency and its 30 employees, a bank branch, a restaurant, a florist, an orthodontist and possibly a physicians’ group, Mr. Semian said.
“It’s a great concept. It’s going to work,” said Mr. Semian, whose firm will relocate from the Mellon Bank Building at 400 Spruce St., in November after the redevelopment is complete. “There will be 100-plus people working there.”
Mr. Semian’s group, Mulberry Place LLC, plans to demolish about 9,000 square feet of warehouse space at the rear of the 24,000-square-foot soft-drink company to add 30 more parking spots for a total of about 150 on the site.
He said the group also has an agreement to buy an adjoining property at 119 Mulberry St., that most recently housed North American Warhorse, a motorcycle dealership. Earlier, the building was an Allied Services facility and it had housed Duke Tire Co. for many years.
“We’ve already negotiated the terms” on the acquisition of the Warhorse building, Mr. Semian said. Dunmore businessman Louis DeNaples owns the structure, Mr. Semian said, though he would not disclose a purchase price.
The development will be announced formally on March 27, Mr. Semian said.
The investment will help create a new look at the western approach to Central City. The Warhorse building has been empty for years and a lot housing a long-vacated gas station at Mulberry and Mifflin Avenue is being converted into a Dunkin’ Donuts.
“The Semian building is going to be a real jewel anchoring the entrance to the city,” said Austin Burke, president of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, which stands across the street from the site. “The whole Mulberry corridor is a major thoroughfare through Scranton.”
Crystal Soda Water Co., which makes Crystal Club beverages, had owned the Franklin Street site since 1965. It will consolidate operations at its production facility at 104 Poplar St., company president Louis Kahanowitz said.
Crystal, which employs about 20 people, has undergone some changes in recent months and its products are scarce at regional grocery stores.
“We have issues, but we’re still in business,” Mr. Kahanowitz said.
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