Commercial projects underway in downtown Wilkes-Barre

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The face of downtown Wilkes-Barre is changing.

City and business leaders say it’s all because of two ongoing hotel projects in Center City. The projects, which have been on-again, off-again for the last several years, are now moving forward.

A new hotel and conference center is planned for the corner of Market and River Streets, and just down the street another hotel-retail center is being built.

People Eyewitness News spoke with say these projects will only intensify the Diamond City’s ongoing renaissance.

“We included this partial component of the old Hotel Sterling from the original building. A free standing monument at the doorway entering the hotel,” said Steve Barrouk of City Brokers Real Estate.

Barrouk is talking about the landmark Hotel Sterling which stood on this site for 115 years that was torn down in 2013.

Barrouk is helping develop this site. It will include a six-story Hyatt Hotel with a conference center, retail and apartments. The total project cost is about $30 million.

“I worked with the Chamber since 1989. I have like 25 to 30 years of experience with this site and it’s been very depressing to see it like this. It’s probably the best piece of real estate in the city right now,” said Barrouk.

Peter Sartorio is co-owner of Sartorio’s Barbershop which is located near the project sites.

“Well it’s the gateway to Wilkes-Barre so that’s got to be something nice. Actually everyone comes over the Market Street Bridge. It’s what they see first,” said Satorio.

Several blocks away on South Main Street, demolition is underway on a building to make way for another hotel/retail project.

Total cost of this project is about $13 million. Business leaders say the simultaneous projects are sending a strong message to other potential investors.

“When you have this level of private investment in a central business district it’s a clear vote of confidence in the market fundamentals in that business district. So we’re thrilled to see it in downtown Wilkes-Barre,” said Larry Newman, Executive Director of Diamond City Partnership.

If all goes as planned, both hotel projects will be completed by the end of 2021 or early 2022. Wilkes-Barre City officials say that hundred of new jobs will be created by these projects.

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