First Posted: 6/11/2013
WILKES-BARRE — Mayor Tom Leighton and members of his staff will meet for the second time in a few days with representatives of Daniel Siniawa & Associates regarding development of the former Murray complex on Pennsylvania Avenue.
A meeting was held at the site and a follow-up teleconference is scheduled for today to discuss the plan to develop the former warehouse and site of Murray’s Inn into retail and residential space, Leighton said.
The buildings were demolished years ago, but the bricks and debris have remained on the site.
“We definitely want the site cleaned up,” Leighton said at Tuesday’s City Council work session. “Our goal is to help Siniawa find a developer. It’s a very attractive site in the city and our goal is to get it developed.”
He said the recent down economy brought the project to a halt. He hopes to hear good news from Siniawa when it offers a progress report today, he said. The company recently placed some heavy equipment at the site, Leighton said.
“We will help them market the site once it’s ready for development,” said Leighton. “But we need a solid plan.”
In July 2012, $4.7 million in government funding toward the project was lost when the promised money was canceled due to inactivity. The funding was committed from three sources in 2006 through 2008 while Siniawa was touting a $22 million plan for the site.
Siniawa representatives said the plan was to construct 60 condominiums, two restaurants with courtyards and 50,000-60,000 square feet of retail space, creating 45 jobs.
Leighton said he remains confident Siniawa will develop the property.
Siniawa paid $1.5 million to purchase the 11.63-acre property from Thomas Murray at a bankruptcy auction in 2004, records show.
In another matter, on Thursday, City Council will consider an ordinance proposed by Leighton to reduce the speed limit on Poplar Street to 25 mph.
At the last council meeting, resident James Gallagher said he was concerned about the lack of posted speed limit in the 200 block of the street.
While he was watching his daughter ride her bicycle, cars sped through his neighborhood, he said.
Gallagher said he was told that without a sign, the limit is 35 mph. He presented a petition to council to lower it to 15 mph.
Council will also consider the purchase of an ambulance re-mount for $114,6887 from Micro Fire Apparatus of Allentown. Leighton said the cost of a new ambulance could cost as much as $225,000.
The city will purchase a 2014 model chassis and trade in the current 2006 model.
Council also will consider authorizing the city to enter into an agreement with the state for reimbursement of costs associated with the $3.3 million Sidney Street Bridge project. Leighton said the city’s 5 percent share in the project — $185,600 — will be funded from the liquid fuels budget.
Wilkes-Barre City Council will meet in regular session on Thursday at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 4th floor, council chambers. Public comment is welcome.