By Roger DuPuis, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
Geisinger will be relocating more than 500 support service employees from across Lackawanna and Luzerne counties to a new three-story, 79,000-square-foot office building at CenterPoint Commerce and Trade Park East in Jenkins Township, officials announced Wednesday.
As part of the move, 280 Geisinger employees will be relocated to CenterPoint from downtown Wilkes-Barre, where the company has been renting space in an office building at 60 Public Square, Geisinger officials said.
The move is expected to take place late this year or in early 2019. It comes amid significant growth and expansion for the Danville-based health services organization, which employs more than 7,100 people in its northeast region and continues to recruit staff.
“We listened to our employees when it came to deciding the new location and found the perfect site right in the middle of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties,” Geisinger Health Plan Chief Operating Officer Lisa Golden said.
CenterPoint is a Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services park. Mericle will be building the facility to Geisinger’s specifications, and Geisinger will lease the property, which will overlook Interstate 81 at 300 Keystone Ave.
Terms of the lease deal were not disclosed.
Amenities at the new facility will include parking, a walking trail, a cafeteria with outside seating, coffee and other food chains nearby, and is accessible to public transportation, Golden added.
“This is one of numerous growth initiatives we’ll be seeing at Geisinger,” she said.
CenterPoint’s gain WB’s loss
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George said the loss of jobs downtown is a big concern. Besides working there, the employees park, eat and shop as well. He estimated the city will take a tax hit to the tune of approximately $20,000 in lost Local Service Tax revenue, referring to the $52 annual fee assessed on employees who work in the municipality.
“They just outgrew the building,” George said of why Geisinger was leaving.
It appears to be a done deal, but city officials will meet with Geisinger next week in a last-ditch effort to try and persuade them to stay, the mayor said.
If the move occurs as planned, office space will be available that might attract other tenants, the mayor noted.
Site work at the Jenkins location has already been substantially completed, said Jim Cummings, Mericle’s vice president of marketing, and further construction will get underway this spring.
There are three other available sites adjacent to the Geisinger location, and Mericle has been actively marketing them, Cummings added.
“We expect future tenants to be office/medical companies and possibly a limited number of commercial tenants that will offer support services to the tenants in the park,” he said.
Growth and expansion
Geisinger’s footprint in this part of the state includes Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township, Geisinger Community Medical Center (GCMC) in Scranton, Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre, the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and the Geisinger Marworth treatment center in Waverly, Lackawanna County.
As reported this week, Geisinger will re-open the emergency department at South Wilkes-Barre later this year as part of a $5 million investment at that hospital, and also plans to bring maternity services back to GCMC with the opening of a $15 million maternity center. Both moves will require adding more personnel, officials said.
Geisinger serves 45 counties in central, south-central and northeast Pennsylvania, and also has a presence in southern New Jersey. The organization, which employs about 30,000, operates 13 hospital campuses, two research centers, and a 583,000-member health plan.