Land for hotel and conference center in Wilkes-Barre moves closer to sale

i Oct 18th 2016

By Jerry Lynott, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — A city official said Tuesday that, nearly a year after the project was announced, a deal is close on the sale of downtown properties for a $28 million hotel/conference center.

During city council’s work session, city administrator Ted Wampole provided an update on the progress of the sale to Sphere International LLC, the developer of the project planned for the corner of South Main and West Northampton streets.

“We are there. We are not over the line yet, but we’re right there,” Wampole said.

According to Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds records, Sphere International, based in Flemington, N.J., plans to build a 10-story, mixed-used development on the corner properties.

The council will be asked to vote on two items on the agenda for Thursday night’s regularly scheduled public meeting that deal with the project: the transfer to the developer of an unnamed alley that abuts the project and parcels at 55-55½, 57-59 and 61 S. Main St., donated by the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority.

Wampole said the city wants to have one closing on all the properties it is selling to Sphere International for the project first disclosed in late October 2015. The developer has agreed to buy the city-owned land for $500,000, but the sale has been held up while due diligence was done to ensure the city had clear title to the properties.

The city condemned and demolished its abandoned properties at 71, 73 and 75 S. Main St. in 2013 after determining they posed a public hazard. Two adjoining private properties were temporarily shut down.

In July, one of the properties, the former Frank Clark Jeweler property at 63 S. Main St. owned by Ken L. Pollock Inc., was sold for $265,000 to the developer. The next door property at 67 S. Main St., the former Place One at the Hollywood, has yet to be sold.