Historic Wilkes-Barre train station project still idling


By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com



The investors interested in acquiring the historic former New Jersey Central train station in downtown Wilkes-Barre have requested another purchase offer extension to complete more due diligence.


Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

The investors interested in acquiring the historic former New Jersey Central train station in downtown Wilkes-Barre have requested another purchase offer extension to complete more due diligence, officials say.

Market Square Properties Development LLC, an investment group led by Pittston engineer and developer George Albert, had submitted a $1.2 million offer to buy the deteriorating train station and surrounding property in June.

The county Redevelopment Authority, which owns the property, granted a 60-day extension to the investment group in September on the condition that it must add another $2,500 to the escrow, for a total $12,500. The authority would keep that money if the deal falls through, board members said.

Market Square requested another 75-day extension last month that would keep the purchase offer intact through Jan. 29, county Authority Executive Director Andrew Reilly said Monday.

The authority board granted the request on the condition that Market Square increases the escrow to $15,000, he said.

Market Square representatives sought additional time to negotiate and finalize leases with potential tenants at the site, Reilly said.

Albert could not be reached for comment Monday on the status of the project.

He said in August his group is planning a $7.5 million to $8.5 million project that will restore the historic train station, upgrade the facade of the adjacent strip mall and add three new structures totaling an estimated 32,000 square feet in the complex at the corner of Market Street and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard.

The authority purchased the 6-acre parcel housing the train station and strip mall for $5.8 million in April 2006 using federal community development funds provided by prior county commissioners. With no money to fund renovations, the authority hired Scranton-based Hinerfeld Realty at the end of 2014 to try to market and sell the property.

Market Square Properties Development is the only entity that had submitted an offer.

Albert has said his group, which includes silent partners, has been completing property surveys, environmental assessments and other due diligence while working “extremely aggressively” to market the site to prospective local and national tenants.

The plans included removal of non-historic train station additions so the original structure can house a bank, credit union or national franchise restaurant. New buildings at the site would have a more traditional look so they tie in with the character of the train station and nearby landmark Stegmaier Building, he said.

The investors interested in acquiring the historic former New Jersey Central train station in downtown Wilkes-Barre have requested another purchase offer extension to complete more due diligence.
http://psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Market_Street_Square1_toned.jpgThe investors interested in acquiring the historic former New Jersey Central train station in downtown Wilkes-Barre have requested another purchase offer extension to complete more due diligence. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

jandes@timesleader.com

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

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