(WBRE/WYOU-TV) Renaissance, rebirth, reawakening just some of the words used to describe what some are saying is happening in Downtown Hazleton. An area that some had given up on
A revitalization project started several years ago is showing visible results. The I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick has the story,
Some might say downtown Hazleton is coming out of the shadows. Shadows of years of neglect. Jacob Ripa opened a jewelry store on Broad Street. He actually came back to the downtown after a 10-year absence.
“So there’s a lot of activity downtown. Your best bet is to come down take a look at what’s being done and pick and choose for yourself what stores you want to go to” Ripa told Eyewitness News.
The nonprofit group- the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress- is the driving force behind the effort. Through a combination of public and private money, the core of the downtown will soon see a new Art Center. Several new restaurants, a business incubator run by Penn State as well as a new public park area.
“I think with the investment going on and positive interest that we’ve had it’s definitely worth doing. So we’re not there yet there’s still a long way to go but we’re making progress” Said Krista Schneider, the Director of the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress.
George Leitner is a member of the Alliance Board and works for a real estate development company. He says many of the long vacant office buildings are getting new tenants. Something he contributes .in part–to the revitalization efforts.
“From Scranton from New York from Philadelphia. These are all brand new clients and people to the Hazleton community” Said Leitner, DHD Manager
Stan Severa grew up in the Hazleton area and remembers the old days in the downtown. “I think it’s a good idea and it will probably bring more people back to downtown. More jobs more shopping and stuff like it used to be.”
The project has seen an investment of about $3 million from the Alliance for the progress thus far with another $2 million dollars soon to be invested in future contracts– add to that. Another $20 million dollars invested by private companies.