HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Two landmark properties in Hazleton are closer to seeing new life, due in part to state economic development programs.
The former Altamont Hotel and the now-closed YWCA are on the receiving end of state financial assistance. City officials say that could translate into additional economic growth in the downtown.
At the intersection of Broad and Church Streets, is the former Altamont Hotel. It was once considered the “crown jewel” of downtown Hazleton. It has been vacant for about a decade and if all goes as planned, city and state officials say it will be once again.
“Well it will be 50 years in February, I’m in downtown Hazleton,” said Joe Scarcella of Metallo’s Formal Wear. “I’ve always said anybody who wants to invest in downtown Hazleton, it’s nothing but help for anybody that’s been and been established here.”
Scarcella owns a tuxedo shop a block away from the former Altamont Hotel in downtown Hazleton. A developer is currently transforming the 10 story building into apartments and a retail center. The state just awarded the owners a $250,000 historic preservation tax credit, to help move the project forward.
“Well, it’s definitely a positive move definitely. Will it bring people to downtown immediately? No, but it’s a work in progress,“ Scarcella explained.
Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat is working with the developer and says the tax credit can only help in the overall revitalization of center city.
“It’s great to see progress in Hazleton. The Altamont will be operating 68 apartments, I believe the plan is, bringing more downtown living… Be a real boost for the businesses in the area,” Mayor Cusat said.
Another landmark property, the YWCA, located just several blocks away from the former Altamont Hotel, is on the receiving end of a $300,000 gaming grant, to help renovate the swimming pool and wellness center. The YWCA closed unexpectedly in June of 2019, citing financial difficulties.
A member of the board of directors tells the I-Team the gaming grant just might help the YWCA reopen. That would bring more people to the downtown. City councilman Jack Mundie insists all of this is good news for the city.
“Well, I think it’s a shot in the arm for the city. It’s going to help revitalize downtown the downtown area get back to be vibrant again like it was at one time,” Mundle said.