WILKES-BARRE — Barbara Rupert recalled what stood along Courtright Street just a few short years ago.
“It was a deteriorating, blighted neighborhood. Something needed to be done with it,” said Rupert, of Hunlock Creek, manager of the Housing Development Corporation of NEPA.
The once-unbecoming site of the Murray-Courtright Building in Wilkes-Barre has since been transformed, beginning with a groundbreaking in 2011, into a multigenerational neighborhood beckoning homeowners and senior renters.
The Courtright Neighborhood, an HDC development, was built on a 13-acre parcel that was previously home to a lace factory that opened in 1885, commercial businesses and government offices. It was partially vacant when it was hit by a huge blaze in 2002 and soon after became a target for vandalism and squatters.
But with Phase 3 of the neighborhood development due for completion this fall, the transformation will be essentially complete, with 16 homes — nine singles, four twins and three ranches — and 12 senior cottages.
Six of the homes are owner-occupied, three are under a sales contract, three are available, and four are still under construction. Eleven of the 12 senior cottages, open to residents 62 and up, are now rented, Rupert said. Senior cottages have two bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms and attached garages, and appliances are included.
“We’ve had very positive feedback from both renters and homeowners. They’re nice houses. They’re energy-efficient, they’re new, they’re low maintenance, and the neighborhood is lovely right here,” Rupert said, looking out onto McGowan Street from inside one of the available twin homes on Courtright Street
All appliances are ENERGY STAR rated, and the buildings are even wired for solar panels, Rupert said. The homes also are designed for universal accessibility, and one ranch home is completely Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant.
The homes capture plenty of natural light, an attractive option for anyone hoping to keep energy bills low. The quiet neighborhood just off River Street also offers a large green space, a small community garden and garages at each residence.
The three-bedroom, 1,600-square-foot homes average about $120,000.
Only a few changes have been made to the original site plans, Rupert said. Specifically, some ranch homes were built in Phase 3 to replace previously planned twin homes.
“When they first did the plans for the neighborhood, they tried to make it match the character of the town. There were a lot of twin homes, but they weren’t generating the interest other homes were,” she said.
Rupert said the city sorely needed the development.
“I believe this is the first new construction in Wilkes-Barre in 10 years,” she said.