Friday, July 25, 2014

Old school gets new purpose

West Pittston High to be renovated into 22 apartments

June 17. 2014 11:25PM

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WEST PITTSTON — For 58 years, it served thousands of students. Now, it will serve hundreds of senior citizens.

The United Neighborhood Community Development Corp. (UNC) plans to undertake a $6.46 million project to turn the old West Pittston High School into an apartment building for seniors with intensive supportive services.

The building, located at 311-313 Luzerne Ave., will include 15 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom units when the restoration is complete.

State Sen. John Yudichak and his office were instrumental in getting the project off the ground. Yudichak used state funding — including tax credits and gaming funds — to help out with the project.

“The development of the former West Pittston High School is an important project from both a historical and economic development perspective as we re-purpose a longtime West Pittston landmark,” Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, said in a statement released by his office. “The development of housing options is another facet of the West Pittston Long-Term Recovery Plan, which continues to progress.”

UNC Community Development Director Marty Fotta said Yudichak and his office supported the project in a huge way.

“He really pushed hard for us to get those funds,” Fotta said. “He’s been a huge supporter of us.”

The current owner of the building is West Pittston businessman Clifford “Mickey” Melberger through Susquehanna Office Services LT. Melberger is a West Pittston graduate. He founded the company Diversified Records Service Inc. in 1982. That company has been occupying the building for the last several years.

The sale of the building is expected to be finalized in August. Fotta said the building will be sold for $500,000. Construction will begin almost immediately. Champion Builders, located in Kingston, is expected to be the contractor for the project.

“West Pittston is a great town and we enjoy working there,” Fotta said. “The borough was very helpful in helping us get the funding. We plan to be finished within a year after construction begins.”

Currently, UNC operates the Hitchner Apartments in the community. Those apartments are housed in the hold Hitchner Biscuit Co. building, just blocks away from the old West Pittston High School. Because of a significant wait list, the company looked to the nearby school in order to develop another 22 apartments.

“After the success of the Hitchner, and how quickly it rented up, we realized we needed affordable housing in West Pittston,” Fotta said. “The high school looked appealing.”

UNC is a voluntary, non-profit organization dedicated to assessing and meeting the needs of low-income families, youth and senior citizens in Northeast Pennsylvania.

The UNC currently operates five different apartment buildings in the region: Harriet Beecher Stowe Apartments in South Scranton, Cabrini Apartments in West Scranton, Willow Apartments in South Scranton and Hitchner Building.

It is also working on transforming an entire block on Cedar Avenue in South Scranton.

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