Investors optimistic about downtown Wilkes-Barre property purchase

i Jul 14th 2016

By Brigid Edmunds, Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Philadelphia-based investors purchased a property on Public Square for $4 million with hopes of revitalizing some of its empty space.

Wilkes-Barre Square LP, an affiliate of Odin Properties, located in Philadelphia, purchased the property located at 39 S. Main St., off Public Square.

The property, which includes Dunkin’ Donuts, Rodano’s, Franklin’s and the Provincial Tower, was purchased June 16, according to county records.

Odin Principal and founder Philip Balderston confirmed the purchase on Wednesday, calling the property a “great asset.”

According to the company website, Odin Properties LLC “identifies and acquires underperforming assets in the Delaware Valley, transforming them to realize long-term value for its investors, tenants, and the neighborhoods that surround them.”

Balderston, whose name was signed in the property’s mortgage, said he is optimistic about the space and the future of the city.

“(We’re) excited about the growth of Wilkes-Barre,” Balderston said by phone.

Balderston bought the property from Rob Finlay, owner of Humford Equities, of Wilkes-Barre. Finlay purchased the property in 2005, but attempts to fill some of the spaces were met with complications.

Times Leader reported in March that City Market Cafe, which opened on the square last month, was originally looking to open in the old Hardware bar, located next to the Dunkin Donuts on South Main Street. Due to lease restrictions, however, the market could not occupy the space and instead moved to its current location.

Similarly, in 2014, former Wilkes-Barre mayor Thomas Leighton said the city considered putting a Trader Joe’s in the property but Wilkes-Barre didn’t meet the required pedestrian-traffic numbers, so the chain wouldn’t open shop here.

The block of South Main Street used to house three bars, including the Hardware bar.

Current businesses will not be affected by the sale, and Balderston said the goal is to focus on the unoccupied properties.

“Immediately, (we will) be performing a renovation,” Balderston said.

He said the goal is to “reinvigorate the space” and get new tenants into the already empty spaces.

Times Leader staff writers Bill O’Boyle and Jerry Lynot contributed to this report.