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Downtown W-B buildings purchased for planned hotel

i Jul 20th 2016

By Denise Allabaugh, Citizens Voice

WILKES-BARRE — The developer that proposed building a $28 million hotel and conference center in downtown Wilkes-Barre has purchased the Frank Clark Jeweler building, one of two private properties on the site.

Sphere International LLC, with an address listed in Flemington, New Jersey, bought the property at 63 S. Main St. for $265,000 from Ken L. Pollock Inc., according to paperwork filed Friday at the Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds office.

It is the first major action taken on the proposed development since Sphere International officials joined former Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton in October to announce plans to build a 10-story hotel with 100 rooms, retail space and 17,000 square feet of banquet space at South Main and East Northampton streets. According to the plans presented, apartment units and condominiums will be located on the upper floors and a conference center will welcome regional and statewide meetings.

In 2013, decaying city-owned buildings on the site were demolished after an engineer found the properties in extreme disrepair and collapsing in some areas.

Frank Clark Jeweler and Place One at the Hollywood vacated their stores in 2013 as a result of the emergency demolition and did not reopen.

Michaelene Coffee, owner of Place One at the Hollywood moved her merchandise to a Scranton location.

She said she met with the developers and hopes her store will be one of the retail spaces inside the new hotel in Wilkes-Barre.

“I miss Wilkes-Barre,” Coffee said Tuesday. “My customers miss me being in Wilkes-Barre.”

She said developers also have told her they intend to buy the Place One at the Hollywood building owned by her mother Barbara Coffee, but she doesn’t have anything in writing yet.

She doesn’t know if plans for the hotel will include preserving the historic facades of Place One at the Hollywood or the Frank Clark Jeweler building, which could be costly.

Place One at the Hollywood’s storefront at 67 S. Main St. covers the architecturally significant Engel Building constructed in 1890.

Alex Belavitz, president of Facility Design and Development in Scranton, the architectural firm for the $28 million mixed-use project downtown, was not available for comment on Tuesday.