Judgment Favors Luzerne County in Dispute with CityVest

Judgment Favors Luzerne County in Dispute with CityVest

A legal judgment means the county can begin collecting money from the former Hotel Sterling property after helping steer millions of federal dollars into it.

Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County -- It's some good news for Luzerne County concerning the former Hotel Sterling property. It can start collecting money from a business that has used the site since last year.

It will mark the first money the county will see from the property since initially helping steer Housing and Urban Development money to CityVest. The non-profit group had grand plans in 2002 to restore the former Hotel Sterling when it purchased the property at a tax sale but was unsuccessful in attracting a developer.

CityVest defaulted three years ago on a $6 million mortgage. The old hotel building fell into further disrepair and had to be demolished last year.

The judgment against CityVest means the county is entitled to fees generated from LAZ Parking -- a paid parking lot that sprang up after the Sterling was demolished at River and Market Streets.

It also means that Luzerne County can seek compensation from CityVest for defaulting on the $6 million mortgage that was totally financed with HUD funds.

Even though the parking fees may be the only money that county recoups, Luzerne County Solicitor David Pedri said at least it's something. "That's $6 million that the county utilized for this developer to develop to provide jobs. They didn't do that... arguably. Maybe they did to a certain extent. Maybe they did to another extent. However, that's $6 million that cannot be utilized elsewhere so the county has to make sure we're getting whatever we can for this and that includes this parking fund," said Luzerne County Solicitor David Pedri.

Atty. Pedri said he isn't able to put a figure on just how much money the county will gain as a result of the judgment. He said whatever money is recouped will not be used for the county general fund. Luzerne County must use any of the recouped funds for community development because it was HUD money used for the mortgage.

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