WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Wilkes University announced Tuesday, a multiphase project that will create a residential, student, and community destination at a long-standing property in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

The property, formerly known as South Main Towers, is located at 116 South Main Street. University officials outlined the first phase of enhancements that will be done as D&D Realty Group, based in Wilkes-Barre, has already leased the second, third, and fourth floors to create high-end apartments.

D&D Realty says they anticipate investing around $5.5 million to create approximately 36-one, two, and three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 675 to 1,300 square feet of space.

In addition to the interior enhancements, the project will also modernize the face of the building with the addition of a number of glass windows.

“As one of the larger buildings in downtown, and one that is so close to our campus, 116 fits perfectly into a core element of our mission which is to aid and inspire economic and community development and be collaborative neighbors by identifying opportunities that help achieve our collective goals,” said Wilkes University President, Greg Cant.

Photo Credit: Wilkes University

Wilkes University Officials say those chose to partner with D&D realty because of their proven track record of success throughout the region. Of the 133 apartments D&D has developed in downtown Wilkes-Barre, all of them are occupied.

“The demand exists and it benefits us all to invite more residents into downtown Wilkes-Barre,” Cant added.

The second phase is a more long-range plan for the property which includes a first floor that blends academic experiences and student life with businesses or retail shops that will enhance students’ experience, officials said.

Their plans and goals for Grant Alley, the sidewalk and lane that borders 116 South Main Street. Officials say they wish to create a safe, attractive, walkable space that could be used for outdoor seating, dining, or study space that will have new landscaping and lighting.

A mural is also being planned at 113 South Main Street by Diamond City Partnership.

“By transforming one of downtown’s largest empty buildings into our center city’s latest residential development while adding street-level uses that will animate a long-vacant stretch of sidewalk, it embodies DCP’s plan for downtown’s future as a walkable college-anchored live-work neighborhood,” said Larry Newman, Executive Director of Diamond City Partnership.

Newman also showed that from 2010 to 202, more than 1,000 new residents found a home in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Work on the first phase will begin immediately and is expected to last until the fall of 2023.