KINGSTON — A real estate holding company with ties to the administrator of a special-education elementary school in Luzerne has purchased the former United Hebrew Institute building in Kingston for $475,000.
According to a deed filed this week at the Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds, NGO Realty LLC purchased the 1.629-acre property at Third Avenue off of Pierce Street on Tuesday. NGO Realty is listed with the state with a Shavertown address, and the deed was signed by Nicholas G. Ouellette, who listed himself as a managing member.
Ouellette is the building administrator at the Graham Academy on Miller Street in Luzerne. He’s also the son of the academy’s owner, Tina Ouellette.
Efforts to reach Nicholas and Tina Ouellette were not successful Thursday.
It’s unclear what the new owners have planned for the 18,434-square-foot building that served as the home of the United Hebrew Institute for more than 50 years before that school moved into the Jewish Community Center in Wilkes-Barre in 2011.
As long as the building has new life, it’s viewed as a positive by Kingston Mayor James Haggerty. “It’s an important building in a nice neighborhood,” Haggerty said. “We’ll be delighted to see it put back to good use again.”
Rabbi Raphael Nemetsky, principal at the United Hebrew Institute, identified the buyers as being involved with The Graham Academy, though he said there were no promises made about how the building would be used. It was his hope it would continue to be used for educational purposes, he said.
He said having to move from the building was difficult and selling it was an unfortunate necessity. But selling it to another educator offers “a little bit of solace,” the rabbi said.
The Graham Academy opened in February 2008 as an alternative school for students with special needs and had only one student.
It’s since grown to offer classes for students in grades first through eighth and it collaborates with 15 school districts throughout four counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Students have been diagnosed with autism, emotional issues, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder or other learning disabilities.
The academy operates as a private school with a license from the state Department of Education in its 20,620-square-foot building. It’s one of a handful of private schools throughout the region specializing in teaching students with emotional or special needs.