2017 Annual Report

Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Improvement District:

2017 Annual Report


The 2017 Annual Report is provided to Wilkes-Barre City Council, stakeholders of downtown Wilkes-Barre, and the public pursuant to Section 9, (1) and (2), of the Pennsylvania Neighborhood Improvement District Act of 2000.

On August 1, 2007, the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Improvement District (DWBBID) began providing supplementary place management, place marketing, and economic development services to the properties and businesses of Downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Following a year of discussion and planning, the DWBBID was created by City Council ordinance following the requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Improvement District Act. The DWBBID was renewed in 2012, and its current authorization extends through the end of 2018.

The Diamond City Partnership, a 501C3 nonprofit corporation, manages the DWBBID, which serves an area extending from Academy Street in the south to North Street in the north. Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s property and business owners are all partners in the DWBBID: their collective investment makes it possible for the DWBBID to provide these services, and to create a cleaner, safer, and more vibrant Downtown.

Each year, an independent accountant’s review report is prepared, provided to the City Clerk and the PA Department of Community & Economic Development, and made publicly available. See the full 2017 document, performed by Lawrence Cable & Company, LLP, Certified Public Accountants.

The DWBBID is funded through an assessment on benefited properties within the Business Improvement District, together with voluntary multiyear contributions from tax-exempt property owners.

In 2017, the total number of DWBBID Benefited Properties decreased to 274. Five previously tax-exempt parcels at 55-55½, 57-59, 61, 71, 73, and 75 South Main Street were sold by the City of Wilkes-Barre and the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority to Sphere International of Flemington, New Jersey for the proposed development of a mixed-use hotel and residential project, while Wilkes University purchased a benefited taxable parcel at 116 South Main Street and five associated properties.


The DWBBID’s activities align with Wilkes-Barre’s current Downtown Action Plan. The Plan, whose creation was led by DCP, is built around six “big goals:”

  • Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be a safe, clean, and attractive place to live, work, shop, and visit.
  • Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be the region’s college neighborhood.
  • Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be the region’s “walk-to-everything” neighborhood of choice.
  • Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be the region’s “Innovation District”: its hub for business, startup activity, and entrepreneurship.
  • Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s historic architecture, riverfront, colleges, and walkability will be the cornerstones of its enhanced visitor experience.
  • Downtown Wilkes-Barre will be a regional center of arts, culture, dining, and entertainment.



  • Number of downtown storefront businesses opening: 10 in 2017 (vs. 7 in 2016)
  • Number of downtown storefront businesses closing: 6 in 2017 (vs. 5 in 2016)
  • Net increase in occupied downtown storefronts: 4 in 2017 (vs. 2 in 2016)
  • Berkshire Hathaway Guard Insurance formally announced its decision to purchase the largely vacant office building at 39 Public Square to serve as the company’s new corporate headquarters. It was the culmination of an 18-month effort by DCP, the Chamber, and City and state officials to secure Guard’s expansion in Downtown Wilkes-Barre. Guard’s plans call for 725 employees in Downtown by mid-2019.
  • D&D Reality brought 40 new market-rate residential units online at Riverview West (11 West Market Street), while the owners of the Citizens Bank Building (8 West Market Street) began converting four floors of that structure to residential use, meaning that another 48 new downtown apartments are now in the pipeline.
  • Wilkes University’s new Sordoni Art Gallery opened at 141 South Main Street in October 2017 with an inaugural exhibit titled “Warhol: From Image to Icon” – which attracted more than 3,000 visitors during its run.


DCP’s Clean Team accomplished the following in 2017:

  • 4,600 Pounds of Trash Removed
  • 113 Graffiti Tags Removed
  • 45 Weed-Abatement Deployments
  • 700 Bills/Stickers Removed
  • 60 Gum Spots Removed
  • 540 Bags of Leaves Removed
  • 6,000 Hanging Baskets Watered
  • 11 Block Faces Power-Washed
  • 25 Pet Waste Cleanups
  • 2 Human Waste Cleanups
  • 192 Motorist Directions Given
  • 84 Pedestrian Directions Given
  • The DWBBID funded 430 hours of Downtown Patrols by Wilkes-Barre police officers working weekend special details during 2017.
  • For the fourth consecutive year, DCP purchased and maintained 186 hanging floral baskets on lampposts throughout Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s commercial core.
  • DCP raised $20,000 in funding from downtown and regional partners to improve downtown wayfinding through the design and installation of 20 new pedestrian and vehicular directional signs. The goal of these signs, which will follow the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor’s signage guidelines, is to help motorists and pedestrians find their way to major Downtown attractions while branding Downtown Wilkes-Barre as the D&L Corridor’s northern terminus.
  • DCP brokered an agreement between King’s College, Wilkes University, Luzerne County, and the Riverfront Parks Committee to expand River Common programming. King’s and Wilkes will each contribute $20,000 per year for the next 5 years, while Luzerne County will contribute $10,000 per year.


  • Downtown Wilkes-Barre was one of four communities featured in an article titled “Small Cities on the Rise” in the fall 2017 edition of commercial broker Colliers International’s Insight magazine.
  • Downtown Wilkes-Barre was featured in the “Northeastern Pennsylvania Intelligence Report” insert within Site Selection magazine’s August 2017 edition.
  • Downtown Wilkes-Barre was featured in Times Shamrock’s 2017 Outlook special edition, titled “Turning a Corner: The Rebirth of Our Downtowns,” and DCP’s Executive Director was part of the Economic Forum roundtable featured in that publication.
  • In all, DCP staff was quoted in 35 different newspaper articles and TV segments dealing with Downtown Wilkes-Barre during 2017.
  • DCP’s social media presence was anchored by its weekly E-blast, “This Week in Downtown Wilkes-Barre,” which is in its fourth year and boasts 1,022 direct subscribers, with substantial recirculation via traditional and social media channels. DCP also uses Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote Downtown Wilkes-Barre.
  • DCP obtained grant funding from the PPL Foundation to undertake a new retail development initiative: the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Holiday Pop-Up Shops, which brought 12 regional retailers to two vacant Midtown Village storefronts. The initiative allowed retailers to “test-drive” a downtown location while simultaneously attracting new holiday shoppers to Downtown.
  • DCP managed the creation of a new Downtown Wilkes-Barre Visitors Guide tear-off map and directory, funded entirely through advertising sponsorships. 10,000 maps were printed and distributed via downtown and regional hotels, businesses, and visitor venues.
  • DCP initiated a new Farmers Market promotional initiative – reusable Farmers Market shopping bags sponsored by Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, in order to promote one of Downtown’s signature events to new audiences.
  • DCP again served as the Neighborhood Champion for “Small Business Saturday,” coordinating this annual event boosting patronage of Downtown’s small independent businesses through promotional programs and activities that were marketed throughout the region.
  • DCP led stakeholders from the local arts community in reimagining the Third Friday Art Walk for 2018, based around the repositioning of South Main Street’s second block, which now contains three different visual arts venues, as Downtown’s “Art Block.”


Thank you to all of our 2017 sponsors:


  • Anthracite Not Just a Newsstand
  • Butler Eyecare
  • Circles on the Square
  • The Citizens Voice
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Elizabeth A. Joseph, DMD
  • F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
  • Genetti Best Western Hotel & Conference Center
  • Luzerne County Visitors Bureau
  • Rodano’s/Franklin’s
  • Rosenn Jenkins & Greenwald


  • Circles on the Square
  • Downtown Residents Association
  • Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association
  • F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
  • Genetti Best Western Hotel & Conference Center
  • McCarthy Tire
  • Navient
  • PNC Bank
  • Riggs Asset Management
  • The Luzerne Foundation
  • The Times Leader
  • Wells Fargo
  • Wilkes University


  • Insalaco Development Group
  • PPL Foundation


  • Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
  • Genetti Best Western Hotel & Conference Center
  • King’s College
  • Pocono Forest & Waters Conservation Landscape (PA Environmental Council)
  • Osterhout Free Library
  • Visit Luzerne County
  • Wilkes University


  • Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield


2017 Board of Directors:

  • Chairman – Joel Zitofsky, Design & Development Co.
  • Vice-Chairman – Steve Barrouk, Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services
  • Secretary – James Casey, Casey House
  • Treasurer – Rick Williams, Luzerne County Council
  • Rich Adams, Around Town Bicycles
  • Charles Barber, The Luzerne Foundation
  • Will Beekman, F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
  • Jim Bell, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
  • Ruth Borland, Esq., Borland & Borland
  • Rebecca Brominski Luzerne County Community College
  • Tony Brooks, Wilkes-Barre City Council
  • Jerome Campbell, Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic
  • Steve Daniloff, WBRE-TV/Nexstar Broadasting
  • Gus Genetti, Genetti Best Western Hotel & Conference Center
  • Beth Gilbert, Wilkes-Barre City Council
  • Elizabeth Graham, Riggs Asset Management
  • Mark Grochocki, Office of Pennsylvania State Senator John T. Yudichak
  • Frank Hoegen, Esq., Hoegen & Associates
  • Larry Holeva, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
  • Angel Jirau, Angel Jirau Consulting Company
  • David Jolley, Geisinger Health Systems
  • Bill Jones, United Way of Wyoming Valley
  • Dr. Dale Jones, Penn State Wilkes-Barre
  • Rabbi Larry Kaplan, Temple Israel
  • John Maday, Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association
  • John Malta, Berkshire Hathaway Guard Insurance Company
  • Ken Marquis, Marquis Art & Frame
  • Joe Matteo, The Frederick Stegmaier Mansion
  • Jack McNulty, Office of State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski
  • Susan McHugh, Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association
  • Robert Morgan, Office of Congressman Matt Cartwright
  • Mike Murray, The Times Leader
  • Teri Ooms, The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development
  • Patricia Parks, Downtown Residents Association
  • Patrice Persico, King’s College
  • Brian Rinker, Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield
  • Wico Van Genderen, Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business & Industry
  • Ted Wampole, City of Wilkes-Barre
  • Michael Wood, Wilkes University
  • Reverend Robert Zanicky, First Presbyterian Church


  • Lawrence M. Newman, AICP, Executive Director
  • Cassandra Fiume, Program & Marketing Coordinator


DCP continues to be Nationally Accredited by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Accreditation demonstrates that DCP meets or exceeds the highest standards for a Main Street program.

— –

Please direct questions or comments to:

Larry Newman, AICP, Executive Director
Diamond City Partnership
4 Public Square
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701