Lackawanna College Plans to Buy Downtown Office Complex

By Eric Deabill |

Published 07/24 2014 05:32PM

Updated 07/24 2014 06:48PM

A college in downtown Scranton is planning to expand, again.

Lackawanna College has agreed to buy one of the biggest buildings in the city's downtown district.

The purchase price for the six-story building known as the "Scranton Center" at Adams Avenue and Mulberry Street is $2 million.

The college plans to close on the deal by the middle of August.

College officials say they're still working out exact plans on how to use the building but say it was a deal they couldn't pass up.

The building has sat mostly empty for the last few years.

"Two years ago, buying a building, taking on a little more debt was not something I really wanted to do or wasn't something that I think we should do but timing is everything," Lackawanna College President Mark Volk said.

Volk says with just over 100,000-square feet of space, the property will bring the possibility for new programs and services for both students and city residents.

One example is a possible community health clinic.

"It's an opportunity to help the community, certainly the college can grow a little bit, we can add some new programs, we can hire some new employees," Volk said.

A two-story building next to the main building would also be included in the sale.

It would replace the college's current cafeteria which is small and a constant source of student complaints.

"It's money well spent," Jason Nese of Scranton said. "The college will expand. You'll attract more people from different parts of the state."

If the sale goes through, the building would come off the tax rolls, hurting an already struggling city's bottom line.

Nese says it is more important to focus on the future.

"If you can churn out more people that will supposedly open up a business in Scranton, you'll end up making money in the long run," Nese said. "If they enjoy their experience at Lackawanna (College) in Scranton and so forth, they may want to stay here in Scranton and open up a business."

Others say they wish businesses remained in the plaza and city.

"I guess time will tell how effective it will be," John O'Rourke of Scranton said.

The president of Lackawanna College says even though the college is tax-exempt. He says the college donated to the city's recent financial consultant's fee and has been in talks with the mayor about other "services in leiu of taxes" that the college can possibly provide.

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