PLAINS TWP. — The former Valley Crest Nursing Home is set to be sold to a private developer Tuesday, after more than five decades of Luzerne County government ownership.
The county council members voted in March to enter into a sales agreement with Tamburro R.E. Development and Management LLC, which will pay $2.075 million for the 62.3-acre property off state Route 315.
The company plans to demolish the nursing home to make way for a new residential and commercial project.
Demand for lodging at Valley Crest far exceeded supply when the facility was built in 1958, but county officials transferred the operation to a private entity — Complete HealthCare — a decade ago this month because its declining occupancy rates and uncontrolled expenses became a drain on county finances.
County officials have been trying to sell Valley Crest since the private operator relocated to its new Timber Ridge Health Care Center nearby in early 2010.
Tamburro representative Robert Tambur and county Chief Solicitor C. David Pedri said the closing is set for Tuesday as required under the sales agreement.
Tambur declined to discuss plans for the property, saying details are still under development.
Tamburro is affiliated with several local family-owned companies that develop and operate local real estate projects, including the 62-acre Arena Hub Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township.
Township officials have approved rezoning of the Valley Crest site from conservation to mixed use — a change needed to complete the new residential/commercial development, Tambur said Friday.
Tamburro representatives are working with the state Department of Transportation on possible traffic changes where the main Valley Crest access road connects to state Route 315 in light of the proposed new development, Tambur said.
County officials have said money from the Valley Crest sale would be deposited into the county reserve to help pay off the deficit, which is $13.1 million but may increase to $15.1 million to help avoid a proposed 8-percent county tax hike next year.
Pedri said the administration has informed the county’s insurance carrier and utility companies to stop coverage on the Valley Crest property after Tuesday’s closing.
A Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority lien against the county for sewage treatment fees dating back to April 2010 on the Valley Crest property also will be paid out of the county’s proceeds at the closing, Pedri said. The lien was reduced from around $85,000 to $68,000 through negotiations because the authority agreed to remove late fees and interest, Pedri said, describing the authority as “very reasonable.”
Critics of the Valley Crest sale have pushed to keep the property for a possible centralized county government complex, but officials who supported the plan said the former home contains asbestos and needs air conditioning and significant repairs. Vacating downtown Wilkes-Barre buildings owned or leased by the county also would “create a ghost town downtown,” county Councilman Stephen A. Urban has said.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.