ANDREW M. SEDER
January 22, 2013
WILKES-BARRE – The 133,000-square-foot complex that houses the RC Movies 14, a trio of eateries and vacant retail space in the city's downtown will soon have a new owner and a new name.
TLC One Holdings LLC, an investment company owned by businessman Joe Amato, of Moosic, is finalizing the purchase of the University Corners complex that runs along portions of Northampton, Main and Washington streets.
Amato was not available for comment Monday, but Liana Fisher, the property manager for Amato Properties, confirmed the deal is being finalized and noted signs already have been hung in the complex's windows displaying the new name: City Centre by Amato Properties.
Fisher said Amato will be available to speak about the project once the purchase closes, and she declined to go into details other than the name change.
The complex houses Refer Local, Letts Eat, Akeno Sushi and Januzzi's Pizza on the first floor and the 14-screen movie theater.
Another first-floor tenant, Tilbury's Knob, recently closed, and there is still available space for other businesses or tenants.
The second and third floors include loft-style condominium residences and are owned by Susquehanna Real Estate. That portion of the complex is not included in the deal.
The property was developed for $31 million by Carlsberg Management Co. along with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry. The $8.4 million note on the property has since been acquired by a consortium of 10 local banks led by Citizens, which took ownership of the note on the property and decided to place the note up for sale.
Bill Moore, president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, said the chamber initially invested about $15 million in the project but once the deal closes we'll get substantially less than that back.
He said that while it was not as successful for the chamber as we hoped it would be, there is no regret that the chamber got involved to get that complex up and running.
I don't think anyone can argue with the success of it, Moore said, noting that each year 600,000 people watch a movie at the theater, which opened in 2006.
That's 600,000 spending money downtown that would not have come downtown, Moore said. He said that's money spent on food, parking, shopping and more.
Moore said he's excited to see someone with Amato's track record taking ownership of a prime downtown landmark.
It's going to be a great thing for the property and for the city, Moore said. Mr. Amato has a great history of success marketing properties. We think this is going to spur development.
Amato, a former drag-racing driver who was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005, owns several area retail developments, including The Gateway Shopping Center in Edwardsville and The West End Plaza in Brodheadsville.
He also operates A&A Self Storage and Joe Amato Cars in Edwardsville.
Mr. Amato has a great history of success