By Jerry Lynott, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — The new owner of prime real estate in the downtown is renovating a South Main Street property for a Dollar Tree store.
Philip Balderston, founder and CEO of Philadelphia-based Odin Properties LLC, said he anticipates a spring opening for the discount retailer. Interior demolition was under way Monday and workers were throwing debris into a roll-off trash container parked on the street.
“We expect it to be a standard Dollar Tree store,” Balderston said. It will occupy 10,000 square feet on the street-level property that formerly housed a series of bars, most recently the Susquehanna Ale House and before that the Hardware Bar. The space has been vacant since late 2013 when the Susquehanna Ale House closed.
In June 2016, Odin’s affiliate, Wilkes-Barre Square LP, paid $4 million for the properties on South Main Street, the adjacent Wilkes-Barre Center high-rise office building, and Rodano’s and Franklin’s Bar & Grill on Public Square.
“It does leave another 2,000 square feet between the Dunkin’ Donuts and the Dollar Tree,” Balderston said. He said his company is working with a few prospective tenants and has set a goal to have the remaining space filled by year’s end.
A message left with Dollar Tree Inc. was not returned Monday. The company that trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol DLTR is based in Chesapeake, Va., and operates more than 13,000 discount variety stores nationwide. It purchased the Family Dollar chain last year.
The addition of a Dollar Tree was viewed as a positive sign by Larry Newman, executive director of the Diamond City Partnership.
During the first phase of most downtown revitalizations, “more risk tolerant” businesses such as bars and restaurants arrive, he explained, adding some of them will depart.
Success depends on the ability to build capacity for businesses that are “more risk averse,” something that Newman said he’s now seeing.
“I think that it’s consistent with the general trajectory of most successful downtown revitalization efforts,” Newman said.