Possible office park for Downton Scranton on former coal colliery site:
$1M granted for city office park
BY DAVID FALCHEK
Feds helping turn ‘sow’s ear into silk purse’ in West Side
A bid to bring white-collar jobs to a former colliery site received a million-dollar boost from the federal government Monday.
The Economic Development Administration contributed $1 million for the Mount Pleasant Corporate Center, a Scranton Lackawanna Industrial Building Co. project that calls for a 23-acre office park near downtown Scranton.
“This mine wasteland is at the entrance of our city,” said Austin Burke, president of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. “We are going to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.”
The office park will be situated between Linden Street and the McDade Expressway. Developers envision up to three glass and concrete office buildings rising from the current slag heaps. The park could accommodate about 1,000 employees.
However, the site will be expensive to develop — more than $4.5 million to clear and level, build roads and extend utilities. A sizable chunk of that is $1.1 million to widen and improve West Linden Street and Providence Road, said chamber vice president Andrew Skrip.
Keystone Block & Supply Co., currently at the site, will move after selling the property to SLIBCO, which expects to begin work in March.
Once the sites are ready, lots will be sold to private developers or companies who want to build on them. The majority of the site is in a Keystone Opportunity Zone, which extends several state and local tax exemptions to the developers through 2010.
The transformation of the former Mount Pleasant and Diamond Coal breaker site is as symbolic as it is economic, another step toward distancing the region from its anthracite past and moving toward a white-collar, technology economy.
“Companies always ask where they can go, and this will give us a place to put them,” Mayor Chris Doherty said. “Once we have it, we can go out and sell it.”
SLIBCO, the Chamber’s development arm, already has some money in the bank. The state has contributed $2 million in grants and $2 million in low-interest loans.
U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, was on hand for Monday’s grant announcement.
“You put your money on the winner,” he said. “In my district, no one’s been winning as much as Scranton has.”
EDA has contributed to city projects in the past, including the Scranton Enterprise Center and the renovation of the former Globe Store.
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