Attorney for developer says expect to see work on Wilkes-Barre hotel project

i Jan 30th 2017

By Jerry Lynott, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Demolition is expected to begin soon on the site of the proposed hotel and conference center downtown, an attorney for the developer said.

The estimated $28 million project was announced more than a year ago by the city and Sphere International LLC for the corner of West Northampton and South Main streets.

Attorney John Dean said Monday he met with the members of Sphere International of Flemington, N.J., who are committed to the 10-story, mixed-used development with a 100-room hotel, rental units and condominiums and ground-floor retail space.

“You should see some action down there within a month,” said Dean, of the law firm Elliott Greenleaf & Dean.

Fencing will be installed in preparation for demolition, Dean said.

The work would be the first since November 2013 when the city scrambled to hire a contractor for the emergency demolition of its vacant properties that had deteriorated to the point they were a danger to neighboring buildings and the public.

Still in the works is the purchase of one of those neighboring structures that is still standing, the former women’s clothing store Place One at the Hollywood at 67 S. Main St.

Dean said he is not involved in the negotiations between Sphere International and Barbara Coffee. Both parties had discussions as late as last week, he said.

But Coffee’s daughter Michaelene, who owned Place One and has since relocated to her Scranton store, said she did not know what was delaying the sale. It’s not about money and there are no issues regarding who has title to the property, Michaelene Coffee said.

“We did settle on a price,” she added.

The next-door property, the former Frank Clark Jeweler building, also was spared during the demolition. The owner Ken L. Pollock Inc. sold it to Sphere International for $265,000 in July.

A few months later in November, the city sold a package of six parcels for $500,000 in a deal that delivered half the payment up front and the other half in $50,000 installments over five years.