WILKES-BARRE —The city Thursday filed notice that it wants CityVest, the owner of the site of the former Hotel Sterling, to appear in Luzerne County Court on the lien against the non-profit corporation that attempted to develop the property.
The filing is the latest by the city that has incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses related to the property.
Last November the city filed a municipal lien totaling $470,753 against CityVest to recoup demolition and other related costs.
In September 2011, the city condemned the landmark structure on the corner of North River and West Market streets. Citing financial and safety concerns, the city authorized the demolition and bid the project. The building that had been vacant since 1998 came down last July at a cost of $424,100.
CityVest attempted to prepare the property for development. It exhausted its funding, including a $6 million community development loan from the county. The corporation, created in 2000, was in the process of dissolving, but was still active, according to a Pennsylvania Department of State database.
With the filing of the lien, the city positioned itself at the top of the list to secure the property at a tax sale, even though the county’s loan was larger. Once it assumes ownership the city can market the property for development.
The city incurred costs for barricades , safety and engineering inspections and detouring traffic around the property. It paid for the demolition with $260,000 in gambling revenues from the state and a portion of the Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development budgeted for tearing down blighted properties.