By Mark Hiller, Wilkes-Barre PA Home Page
WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — One local downtown is welcoming several new businesses in the coming weeks. Each of the businesses will fill a vacant building. The new additions are helping expand on the center city vision.
It may not seem like much inside a vacant South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre building. But this former nightclub site will be transformed into a Dollar Tree store set to open in late spring. “That is going to be, I’m sure, a very nice addition to what has traditionally been the primary retail block in downtown Wilkes-Barre,” said Diamond City Partnership Executive Director Larry Newman.
Getting center city storefronts occupied is the goal of Diamond City Partnership. Despite the comings and goings of businesses, downtown Wilkes-Barre now features nearly four dozen more occupied storefronts than it did about a decade ago. “Occupied storefronts are one of the key visual cues that lets people know that things are headed in the right direction,” said Mr. Newman.
Wilkes-Barre native Patrick Ripley remembers a time when it wasn’t that way and welcomes the business rebirth. “There’s more activity, more going on. There’s more stores. There’s a lot more to do.” Just down the block will be a new place to eat. Joining the downtown’s so-called restaurant row is one that will specialize in Caribbean cuisine.
When the restaurant opens it will join some 40 other places to grab a bite to eat in the Diamond City’s downtown. Another spot, AmberDonia Bakery is relocating from Dickson City to the corner of South Washington and East Northampton Streets. Downtown Wilkes-Barre worker Kimberly Pearson of Ashley said, “I like it because then there’s more job opportunities for everybody and honestly there’ll be more picks for food, too.”
Another addition includes a place for pampering — space now under construction for a spa coming to South Franklin Street will also help remove some of the stress to keep center city thriving. “We’re always happy to hear that folks are looking at downtown as a potential location,” said Mr. Newman who added that the downtown is attractive to businesses because of its more than 11,000 daytime employees, 3,400 downtown residents and 7,500 college students in center city.