A Massachusetts-based company has purchased the former Mark II restaurant in Wilkes-Barre Township with plans to lease the property to a Dunkin Donuts or Baskin Robbins franchiser — or both, according to documents filed in the Luzerne County deeds office.
The Mark II restaurant, located on state Route 309 near Blackman Street, closed in 2008 due to a bankruptcy.
A Dunkin Donuts is located across the street in a strip mall owned by Steve Koroneos, Dickson City.
JW Ventures sold the 1.16-acre Wilkes-Barre Township property to Pittston Realty LLC for $575,000 on March 22. Representatives of Pittston Realty, which owns the Dunkin Donuts property in Plymouth, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Jack Williams Jr., who owns JW Ventures with his daughter, Jennifer, said the buyers plan to complete major renovations to the former Mark II property, though he said he was not aware of the planned new occupants.
The Williamses had purchased the property and three other former Mark II Family Restaurants in 2010 with the goal of restoring or demolishing them so new businesses could open.
The Mark II restaurant in Dallas Township also closed in 2008 after the previous owners filed for bankruptcy. The restaurant on Kidder Street in Wilkes-Barre closed in 2006, and the one on U.S. Route 11 in Edwardsville closed in 2007.
Williams said he had to repair the Wilkes-Barre Township property to make it marketable because vandals had removed doors, smashed light fixtures and punched holes in the walls. Copper wiring also was stolen.
“It cost me thousands of dollars just to get power back into the building because of the damage they had done. They destroyed everything hooked up to the wiring,” Williams said.
JW Ventures sold the Kidder Street property to Premium Realty Inc. for $75,000 in March 2012 for a new Enterprise Rent-A-Car facility.
The Edwardsville restaurant was demolished, and Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals L.P. purchased the 1.11-acre parcel on Wyoming Avenue for $365,000 in 2011 to allow expansion of its adjoining gasoline holding facility.
Williams said the Edwardsville restaurant was inhabited by squatters and gutted by thieves.
“They destroyed that restaurant. It was too expensive to repair,” he said.
He does not have specific plans for the remaining former restaurant on Dallas Memorial Highway in Dallas Township. He has fond memories of that restaurant when the Forty Fort Ice Cream Co. operated an ice cream store there in his youth.
“The building is older than me. I’m guessing we’ll probably take that building down,” he said.
The Williamses had to pay all delinquent property taxes and assume nearly $1 million in debt when they acquired the four properties at a sheriff’s sale, but Williams said the venture has been rewarding because it put blighted properties back into productive use.
His main frustration: delays and red tape obtaining permits needed by potential buyers.
“Our government needs to streamline the permitting process. Other states have much more efficient processes,” he said.