WB administration making another pitch to sell Park & Lock East garage

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
Wilkes-Barre city council is weighing a $2 million offer for the Park & Lock East parking garage on East Market and North Washington streets. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Having obtained most of the information requested by city council, the administration will make another pitch to sell the Park & Lock East garage downtown.

The proposed sale of the city-owned parkade to Washington & Market Street Properties LLC for $2 million, a premium of $450,000 above the appraised value, will be discussed at council’s work session Tuesday night.

Last month, council held off voting on the deal to sell the garage, which makes an annual profit. Council members also were under the impression the parkade was among those included in a study by Desman Design Management, of Chicago. The study is looking at the benefits of possibly selling or leasing city parking assets.

But city Administrator Ted Wampole informed council the garage was not part of the study.

Council also tasked Wampole with getting written opinions from Desman; PFM, the city’s financial adviser; and the Wilkes-Barre Parking Authority.

Only the parking authority hasn’t responded yet, Wampole said Thursday.

According to the opinions in hand and provided to council and the authority, the sale received the blessing of Desman and the caution from PFM’s Gordon Mann to be prudent with the extra money the city stands to make. The potential buyer weighed in with 16 reasons for the city to sell.

The sale would put the property on city tax rolls, plus get rid of maintenance and personal liability expenses, Washington & Market Street Properties said.

Antonio Rado and his business partner, Martin Mariano, approached the city last year about selling the parkade so they could better market their adjacent high rise on Public Square to potential tenants to replace Geisinger that’s leaving by Jan. 31, 2019. Geisinger’s exit opened up approximately 200 spaces in the garage and Rado and his RAM company wanted to be able to offer parking in the deal to attract tenants.

Washington & Market Street Properties noted a reverter clause requires approval by RAM and another adjacent building owner for the city to sell the parkade. It also stressed the urgency of a decision on the sale within 60 days of April 26, when it was first put before council. Any delays put it at a disadvantage to replace Geisinger. “The result becomes a costly liability, which may reduce our current offer price,” the potential buyer said.

PFM’s Mann looked at the sale in terms of its effect on city finances. The city would make a net profit of $1.7 million, once the remaining $300,000 debt on the parkade is paid off. The net profit is higher than the $1.1 million the city budgeted this year from the sale of city property.

Mann advised against spending the excess profit to cover normal operational expenses. “That’s the worst possible use for the additional proceeds,” he said.

Desman offered a list of pros and cons.

If the sale goes through, the number of public parking spots could drop and the city could lose out on parking revenue, Desman said.

But it agreed with Washington & Market Street Properties that dedicated parking would make it easier to attract tenants.

Weighing both sides, Desman said “that the sale of the garage is in the best interests of the city of Wilkes-Barre.”

Wilkes-Barre city council is weighing a $2 million offer for the Park & Lock East parking garage on East Market and North Washington streets.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_ParkingGarage-1.jpgWilkes-Barre city council is weighing a $2 million offer for the Park & Lock East parking garage on East Market and North Washington streets. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.