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Monday, February 22, 2016

The Murray Weed Patch: Progress as Promised?

A centrally located high school anyone?

Murray Complex developer: Contractor 'left us hanging'

From that February 2011 Citizens' Voice story:

 Though Siniawa would entertain offers to sell the entire property or portions of it, he said he still hopes he could have the property cleared this spring and construction started on the development within the year. He wouldn't say exactly what he's planning now, but said the project might be developed "piecemeal."

Try this Times Leader story dated Fri, Dec. 22, 2006

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.

So, except for some weed growth, here we are in 2016 and not much progress has been made. More accurately put, the site has been all but abandoned. 

If you ask me, this is where the new E.L. Meyer Coughlin facility should be built.

Anyway, the question still begs. What's the latest on this so-called project?

Huh?

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