Council will vote on accepting a city architectural company’s bid of $68,500 to do preliminary design work

Last updated: September 10. 2013 11:35PM - 2946 Views
BILL O’BOYLE boboyle@timesleader.com

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Wilkes-Barre City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 4th floor, Council Chambers. Public comment is allowed.

WILKES-BARRE — City Council on Thursday will consider a resolution to hire an architectural firm to prepare a study for the former First National Bank building on Public Square.

Mayor Tom Leighton told council the Williams Kinsman Lewis Architectural Firm, Wilkes-Barre, has bid $68,500 to do the preliminary design on the building that has been vacant since the early 1970s. The study will determine what it will cost to repair the building’s roof and masonry to get it stabilized for prospective developers.

The costs will be paid from $1.3 million in gaming funds that city received for the building. Leighton said he hopes that by doing the work, developers will show interest.

“The economy appears to be better now,” he said.

In 2010, James Burke and architect Don Sanderson had proposed to establish an Anthracite Miners Museum in the former bank building, but withdrew their interest more than two years ago. The building was built in 1906 and a tree grows on the roof.

At the time, Leighton said he was supportive of the project but told Burke that he couldn’t commit to a specific project because there were other interested developers.

The structure was the first building on Public Square, according to Burke. He and Sanderson planned to raise $600,000 to transform it into a museum. Sanderson said the one-story building’s 40-foot-high ceiling made it not fiscally feasible to build a second floor.

Burke has since developed a relationship with King’s College to be the home of his Anthracite Heritage Foundation, having held several events there to celebrate the region’s mining history.

In another matter, Councilwoman Maureen Lavelle asked Leighton to have the city look into complaints about a four-unit apartment building on South Hancock Street. Lavelle said a fifth unit was been added, which is a violation of the city zoning regulations.

Lavelle said no permits have been issued for work done on the building. Leighton said city officials will look into the matter.

The city will remove the large metal structure on Public Square to make way for construction of a permanent stage. Leighton said Pittston has expressed interest in the structure and the city will let it go at no charge.

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