Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sterling gets one proposal

February 16. 2013 6:30PM
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One development proposal was submitted for the Sterling Hotel project by Wednesday's noon deadline, according to Wilkes-Barre Economic Development Director Greg Barrouk.

"We received one proposal from a well-known developer, and we are really excited to read through the proposal to find out more information," Barrouk said.

Two other prospective developers participated in the preliminary proposal process but chose not to submit plans, Barrouk said. Those developers did not cite reasons.

The city and CityVest, the Sterling's nonprofit owner, are not publicly releasing the lone proposal at this time.

Documents received through government public request-for-proposals, or RFPs, become public when a contract is awarded or if all proposals are rejected, said Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.

Barrouk said the proposal is from a national developer that has offices in Pennsylvania.

The request sought an experienced developer to construct a "signature mixed-use project" on the 4-acre site at the corner of River and Market streets.

Barrouk said his cursory review of the proposal meets that condition, though he wouldn't elaborate.

"We are very pleased," he said.

Representatives of the city and CityVest will review the submission with state and county officials, likely next week, as part of a discussion on proceeding with demolition, Barrouk said.

Government funding will be required for demolition because the developer wants a "clean site," Barrouk said.

CityVest is out of funds and spent most of a $6 million county loan to make the parcel larger, tear down an attached high-rise and remove hazardous material from the original 114-year-old former landmark hotel.

County Manager Robert Lawton has said he may ask county council to allocate community development funding toward the Hotel Sterling demolition, but only for a "credible" development project that will create jobs.

A majority of county council had voted in April to accept Lawton's recommendation to cancel an up-to-$1.5 million community business loan fund allocation for the Sterling demolition.

Lawton advised cancellation because demolition alone wouldn't create jobs and would diminish funding available for other potential viable projects.

The city and CityVest responded by seeking development proposals. The city also obtained 14 demolition bids ranging from $486,000 to more than $1.1 million.

The city has committed $270,000 toward demolition, which could reduce the county share to a minimum $216,000.

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