WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The Eddie Bauer Outlet has reopened in the Arena Hub Plaza and the property owner is hoping to have all the tornado-damaged stores in the plaza back in business before the holidays.
Meanwhile, one of the busiest stores in the plaza, Barnes & Noble, will open in a temporary space this Thursday at 250 East End Centre, site of a former Sears Outlet store.
“We are so pleased to be able to offer our customers a temporary bookstore a short distance away from our store damaged by the tornado,” said Jim Lampassi, Barnes & Noble vice president for real estate development. “Our customers have shown an incredible outpouring of support for our booksellers and the store, and we look forward to seeing them at our pop-up location to find the books, toys, and games they love. We are continuing to work diligently to reopen the store at 421 Arena Hub Plaza.”
Officials have said previously the main store is expected to reopen before Thanksgiving.
Barnes & Noble’s Arena Hub location received heavy damage in the EF-2 tornado that struck June 13. The company said all employees from the store will keep their jobs and have been helping with the rebuilding process.
‘This far this fast’
Robert Tamburro, trustee and general partner of TFP Limited — owners of the Arena Hub Plaza — said remodeling of all the stores hit by the tornado continues.
“We are continuing to make progress,” Tamburro said. “Our goal is to have all reopened by the holidays. I can’t say for certain, but I’m fairly confident we will meet our goals.”
Tamburro said Dick’s Sporting Goods is close to reopening, as are TJ Maxx, Staples and PetSmart.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” Tamburro said. “We’ve been blessed with a lot of cooperation from the tenants. We are constantly working together. Wilkes-Barre Township has been a great help to us. It’s been a total team effort. Without cooperation and teamwork, we would not have been able to have gotten this far this fast.”
Tamburro has hired Belfor Property Restoration of Allentown to do the cleanup of his buildings. He said Belfor has had 90 workers on-site working 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. shifts.
“Belfor has gone above and beyond to get our tenants back,” said Tamburro. “Everything has been well-organized. Belfor is very well-versed in this kind of work. Typically in these situations, there is a tendency to panic. Belfor has kept everybody focused and organized so we can move forward.”
Commons in limbo
There is still no word on the future of the Wilkes-Barre Township Commons, the plaza adjacent to the Arena Hub Plaza. Stores that were located in the Commons have yet to learn if the property owner, Urban Edge Properties, will rebuild.
When contacted, Urban Edge declined comment. The Commons buildings were severely damaged and have been condemned so they can be demolished.
Hardest hit was the building that housed Panera Bread, Tovon & Co., America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, LA Nails, Sneaker King, GameStop and Famous Footwear.
Robert Minutoli, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Urban Edge, has declined to offer a status report on whether any of the businesses affected by the tornado would return.
Tommy Van Scoy Jr., owner and president of Tovon and Co., has leased a new store in the Dallas Shopping Center.