Developer purchases property for $28 million hotel project in Wilkes-Barre

i Jul 18th 2016

By Jerry Lynott, Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — The developer of a $28 million hotel/conference center proposed for downtown has purchased one of the two private properties located on the site.

According to a deed filed Friday in the Luzerne County Clerk of Records, Sphere International LLC bought the parcel owned by Ken L. Pollock Inc. at 63 S. Main St. for $265,000. Pollock purchased the property in 1981 for $1 from the Boston Store Holdings Corp., according to court records.

A call to Joseph J. Prociak, president of Ken L. Pollock Inc., was not immediately returned Monday.

The sale is the first significant movement on the project since October, when Sphere International announced plans to build the 10-story, mixed-used development on the corner of South Main and West Northampton streets. The project is expected to complement a similar development made up of the WB Movies 14 theater complex, condominiums, shops and restaurants on the other side of South Main Street.

A deal is in the works for another privately owned property at 67 S. Main St. that formerly housed the Place One at the Hollywood women’s clothing store.

“I’m still pending,” store owner Michaelene Coffee said Monday.

The city of Wilkes-Barre also has been working with Sphere International to sell three parcels for a combined total of $500,000. The sale has been delayed so that a clear title of ownership can be obtained on one of the parcels, project architect Alex Belavitz said last month.

Belavitz, president of Facility Design & Development Ltd. in Scranton, was out of the office Monday and could not be reached for comment. He had said Sphere International was a consortium of developers with an array of projects in various phases around the world. One of the projects is an $11 million hotel proposed for Mundy Street in Wilkes-Barre Township. The deed listed Sphere International’s address as River Road, Flemington, New Jersey.

In the Wilkes-Barre project, the anchor will be a yet-to-be-named flagship hotel with 100 rooms and a 17,000-square foot banquet room. On the ground floor will be retail space with four floors set aside for rental units and the top two floors reserved for condominiums.

The site is designated a Keystone Opportunity Zone, which provides tax breaks. The Pollock and Coffee properties will be demolished just as the city’s were nearly three years ago. The abandoned structures owned by the city were “in very poor condition” and presented “immediate hazards to the general public,” according to a report by Leonard Engineering Inc. of Wilkes-Barre, hired to complete structural inspections.

The report recommended the “immediate demolition” of the city owned-buildings and that the business owners in private structures sandwiched between the city properties vacate until the work was completed.

The Place One at the Hollywood relocated to its Scranton store and Frank Clark Jeweler in the Pollock building temporarily shut down during most of the holiday shopping season. It later reopened for a short time, but the shutdown had hurt business and the store closed permanently.