No developers submitted proposals to purchase and renovate the historic New Jersey Central train station in downtown Wilkes-Barre by Tuesday’s deadline.
Andrew Reilly, executive director of the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority, which owns the property, said there was some interest in the project because several architects and engineers had requested copies of the request for proposals, but none resulted in an offer.
“Now the authority board will have to consider other options,” Reilly said.
A strong possibility is the hiring of a commercial real estate broker to aggressively market the 6.24-acre property at the corner of Market Street and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard, he said. The property includes a strip mall and parking lot.
Marketing was not involved in the request for proposals, he said. The authority had placed the request in local newspapers and on the websites of the county and Penn’s Northeast, the region’s economic development marketing agency.
The authority board will discuss plans at its next meeting April 15, he said.
Authority members wanted to see if any private developers were interested before entertaining a request to donate the property to the county Historical Society.
The Historical Society voted to request ownership in July to ensure the deteriorating property will be preserved. Payment wasn’t offered because society members estimate they must raise around $2 million to demolish deteriorating additions constructed in 1975 and restore the station , which was built in 1868 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“I don’t think the board has an interest in simply giving the property away without doing its due diligence. I think that would be more of a consideration further down the road if other options are exhausted,” Reilly said.
The authority’s plans to renovate the station were halted in 2012 when county Manager Robert Lawton canceled a $2 million community development allocation to the cash-strapped authority because the project won’t create jobs.
An outside appraiser recently estimated the property is worth $1.88 million — less than a third of the 2006 purchase price of $5.8 million funded by county community development money.
Several county council members have complained about the rundown appearance of the historic train station, though council as a whole has not discussed any attempt to restore county community development funding for the project.
An authority maintenance worker regularly checks the train station for evidence of theft and break-ins, but the authority has no funds to complete initial exterior renovation work, Reilly has said.