ssǝɹddns ɹou ɹɐǝɟ ɹǝɥʇıǝu plnoʍ ʎʇǝıɔos ǝǝɹɟ ʎlnɹʇ ɐ ʇɐɥʇ ƃuıʇnɔolɯnɔɹıɔ suıɐʇuoɔ ǝʇıs sıɥʇ

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Siniawa Landfill

In early 2004, Daniel Siniawa, bought the long-shuttered and rapidly deteriorating Murray Complex in Wilkes-Barre, and told the Times Leader an “impulse led the Lackawanna County developer to bid on the 16-acre South Pennsylvania Avenue property, eventually buying it for $1.5 million.”

And then two years later we had this…

Posted on Fri, Dec. 22, 2006
W-B Area signs on to Murray Complex plan
Board OKs a tax increment financing plan for condos, shops and restaurants at site.

By JANINE UNGVARSKY Times Leader Correspondent

WILKES-BARRE – Voicing praise for the developers, the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board voted unanimously to approve the district’s participation in a tax increment financing plan to fund renovations to the Murray Complex.

Wilkes-Barre attorney Frank Hoegen, speaking for the Siniawa family – the Scranton-based developer of the $22 million project in the century-old warehouse space – said the condominiums, shops and restaurants would serve as a catalyst for further development.

“The Siniawas are going to borrow $15 million and pledge their properties as collateral. They are taking a huge personal risk to take a blighted area in downtown Wilkes-Barre and turn it into a showcase,” Hoegen said.

According to the resolution passed Thursday, the school district will join with Luzerne County and the city of Wilkes-Barre to develop a tax increment financing plan to fund $2.2 million of the debt for the project’s first phase. That phase calls for 55 condominium units and businesses that will generate an estimated $313,000 in taxes beyond the $20,000 the 480,000-square-foot site now nets the district.

“That increase will be created by virtue of the improvement to the property,” Hoegen said, “and the difference will be channeled to the (Luzerne County) Redevelopment Authority to pay the debt service on the loan.”He said the district will continue to receive the $20,000 in taxes it currently receives, as well as mercantile, transfer and income taxes generated by the property.

At the end of the 15-year term of the financing plan, the additional tax revenue will be split between the city, the county and the school district at a rate yet to be agreed upon, according to the resolution.

Luzerne County Commissioners approved participation in the plan earlier Thursday. Hoegen said the city is expected to decide soon whether to join in.

Project architect Alexander J. Belavitz said the plan is to “have the shovel in the ground” to start the project by late spring or early summer.

And then three years later we had this…

June 25, 2009
The walls come tumbling down
Demolition at former Murray complex under way; nearby condo-commercial project planned.

WILKES-BARRE – Demolition began Monday at the former Murray complex between Ross Street and Hazle Avenue.

Robert Sakosky, vice president of Daniel Siniawa & Associates of Dickson City, said he hopes all the dilapidated brick buildings to the right side of Ross Street will be down by the end of the year. The buildings have been deteriorating and the city and residents have expressed safety concerns.

“We are going forward with our project on the other side of Ross Street,” Sakosky said. “Those plans have not changed.”

The estimated $20 million project is multi-dimensional. Sakosky said Siniawa plans to build 55 loft-style condominiums, restaurants and will create 50,000-60,000 square feet of retail space on the site that once housed Murray’s Inn.

Sakosky said Siniawa is offering the Ross Street to Hazle Avenue side of the complex for sale. Once the demolition is completed, the property should attract more interest, he believes.
“If we can’t sell that side, then we will look at developing it ourselves,” Sakosky said.

“But we won’t do anything until we complete our first project, where Murray’s Inn was.”

A “for sale” sign on the property will remain up, Sakosky said.

“We really didn’t think it was feasible to do the main project with those deteriorating buildings sitting there,” Sakosky said.

Mayor Tom Leighton said the project is another improvement in the city. City Council approved an application for a $1 million grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development for the project.

The Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority and the Wilkes-Barre Area School District have already approved the project and provided financial support. The redevelopment authority will loan $2.2 million for the work. The school district, county and the city have approved a tax diversion for the project to help pay off the loan.

The city entered into an agreement for the project with Siniawa 16 L.P. of Dickson City in July. Daniel Siniawa is the principal owner of the firm.

Sakosky has stated that once demolition ends, construction can begin, and he estimated the entire project would take between 14 to 18 months to complete.

The Siniawa group purchased the entire 16-acre complex for $1.5 million from Thomas Murray at a bankruptcy auction in March 2004.

Here’s my problem.

They’ve been demolishing that building for over a year now. Wait, allow me to expand on that.

They knocked it down a while back. They recycled what they could recycle from among the acres-wide and massive piles of rubble. And then the project came to an abrupt halt as the 2 pieces of heavy equipment working the site were removed from the site.

And since I drive past those piles of rubble at least twice every day, I’m here to tell you that the refuse removal stopped some months ago.

And now, we’re left with this bulldozed eyesore that has replaced the original free-standing eyesore. And a sign that reads: For Sale 570-356-2910.

All of which leads me to a few questions.

For starters, what is the status of this years-old project? 6 years, in fact.

When will the year-long demolition period transition into becoming a construction site?

Or should I say, is this project still on? Or has it been temporarily or permanently shelved?

And if it has been shelved, what is the current tax status of the property?

This “project” is now 6-years in and nowhere near completion. Er, nowhere near it’s beginning.
So, is it still an ongoing project at all?

And if not, what’s up with the Tax Incremental Financing status?

Personally speaking, that pile of rubble is starting to annoy me more than the original idiot magnet ever did.

And that T.I.F. thing is a bit rankling for me as well.

So, as always, V’ger needs to know.

What’s up with the Siniawa Landfill?



Anonymous said...

I want to know how much money has the owner been able to swindle out of the tax payers, by standing around saying he is going to build something. But not really doing anything. And in 4 years from now when nothing has been done still, will they be paying him even more money to sit there with his thumb in his ass?

D.B. Echo said...

Hah! A year? Well, everything is bigger and better in Nanticoke. Skatarama burned down nearly twenty years ago. Since then, every few years there is a big announcement about the place being torn down, and after a few weeks there will be a big flurry of construction there, and a big pile of bricks or other debris will appear in front of the place...and then that's it. Maybe a few months later the bricks or other debris will be hauled away, and then the place will just sit, with nothing much happening..until the next big announcement.