The Lackawanna County majority commissioners were asked for their thoughts on the Steamtown Mall and the utilization of the mall for government office space.
I am opposed to purchasing some or all of the mall. The Steamtown Mall was constructed for retail space, not office space. The cost to renovate would be exorbitant. I also do not believe we should be involved in eliminating the downtown mall. If the county was to own even 25 percent of the mall space, that would mean 25 percent less for stores.
In addition, the county’s offices are open during the day and not on the weekend. That means after county offices close on weekdays and weekends, 25 percent of the mall will be closed and in darkness. This will decrease demand by tenants and use by shoppers. By purchasing some or all of the mall, we will essentially eliminate it as a downtown destination point.
I believe the mall needs help from city, county and state governments, without placing a financial burden on the backs of Lackawanna County taxpayers.
I believe county government’s best method to help the mall would be to purchase and develop the Diversified/Globe Store for all of our leased government space. We have an opportunity to utilize the Globe-Mall entrance that would provide additional foot traffic and, in turn, would provide much-needed revenue to the merchants. Another benefit: Our constituents, especially our seniors, will have access to our Colts bus systems. The buses will be able drop off riders near or at the door of our government offices.
This will be a great opportunity to provide parking in the mall to Lackawanna County employees. We will be able to bring the offices of Domestic Relations (located in Mayfield), Voter Registration (located at Stafford Avenue), District Attorney, Veterans Affairs, Register of Wills, Adult Probation and Clerk of Judicial Records under one roof. All our offices will be located in Scranton, and it will be a win-win situation for the county and the city of Scranton.
All county government offices should be centrally located in downtown Scranton and be accessible to all the 214,000 residents of Lackawanna County. County taxpayers deserve to own their own buildings and eliminate all of our leases.
Patrick M. O’Malley