By Alicia Nieves, WNEP-TV Newswatch 16
WILKES-BARRE — The city of Wilkes-Barre recently announced a $28 million project that would turn a now vacant building in the heart of downtown into a hotel and luxury housing.
In recent years, the Diamond City’s downtown has seen a bit of a renaissance, with some new restaurants, stores, and a movie theater.
But, is there a demand for luxury housing in downtown Wilkes-Barre? Some say there’s proof the answer is yes.
In a few months, crews will start working to transform a vacant building just off Public Square in Wilkes-Barre into a new hotel at least 10 stories high.
During a recent announcement, city officials said several floors of the new building will also have luxury apartments and condos.
“I find it hard to believe there is a demand for luxury apartments in the city of Wilkes-Barre, considering the socio-economics of this area. Who can afford those apartments?” asked Dave Felker of Wilkes-Barre.
Jeff Pyros manages the luxury apartments inside the Luzerne Bank building. They’ve been filled up since opening in 2012, renting to mostly young professionals working downtown, looking for something with a more modern look.
“There are not a lot of newer complexes in the area. Most of the housing here is either half a double block or a house for rent,” Pyros said.
eBay Enterprise Marketing Solutions recently announced that it is moving its headquarters to downtown Wilkes-Barre adding about 50 more jobs to the area. It’s a move like that, that has some people saying there is an increasing demand for luxury housing here.
“Things are happening downtown. I mean people are coming downtown. People are starting to realize that there is a downtown.”
As far as Pyros is concerned, there is promise for the success of the new hotel and luxury housing building in Wilkes-Barre. It is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2017.