Stephen Gilpin looks at West Pittston and sees prosperity.
The borough native, who works as a real estate consultant and coach in New York City, has become a booster for this riverfront community as it continues to rebound from September 2011’s severe flooding.
He partnered with others to buy and rehab homes here, some 16 of them so far, according to his tally. He also has encouraged other people to do the same, even bringing a busload of potential investors to Luzerne County’s “Garden City” during 2014 to promote its available properties.
Are his actions partly driven by a profit motive? No doubt. But that shouldn’t obscure the fact that Gilpin, aided by his brother Geoffrey, of Gilpin Construction, continues to champion the borough’s resuscitation (long after many others have psychologically moved on or physically moved out), and he genuinely seems to care that it succeeds as one of the Wyoming Valley’s premiere residential places. “I love this town,” Stephen Gilpin recently told the Sunday Dispatch.
For the past two years, the Gilpin family literally has brightened West Pittston and some of its residents’ spirits, acting as co-sponsors behind a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. And early next year, if all goes as planned on another Gilpin-inspired project, the DIY Network will air multiple episodes of a house-flipping show featuring the transformation of a Luzerne Avenue building.
Stephen Gilpin, meanwhile, reportedly purchased a house in the borough in which he plans to take up residence.
His still-unfolding story is a reminder of the many Valley natives who leave this region to pursue careers and then, upon reaching some measure of success in their 40s, 50s and beyond, remember from where they came. Through business initiatives or philanthropy, or both, they find ways to help Northeastern Pennsylvania residents advance community-building projects and improve lives.
We can’t personally vouch for Stephen Gilpin’s character; but we do admire his gumption. The Seton Catholic High School graduate’s efforts in the borough ultimately can return flood-damaged sites to the tax rolls. Empty structures can again become homes.
And Gilpin even has aspirations for what will become of those places that cannot be salvaged. Each, according to his vision, would be torn down and replaced by gardens – in keeping with the borough’s historical nickname.
A fitting dream, of course, for a fellow returning to his roots.