WILKES-BARRE – With growing pains and little room to build, King's college officials announced that they are buying the Ramada hotel in downtown Wilkes-Barre for $2.7M.
The deal is expected to close in December, and a statement from the college said it is hopeful that state and casino funding will help pay for $11.5M in renovations.
""We seem to be getting a lot bigger, so to expand and help out with parking, I think it`s cool and good for the students,” said senior Kyle Grampp.
Some of the hotel rooms will be turned into dorms; the college said the rest of the building will be used for Physician Assistant Studies and Athletic Training Education programs, as well as the New Exercise Science program.
Education major Emily Williams told Newswatch 16 that she is not thrilled about the pricey project.
“I just personally feel think it`s not fair for the incoming freshmen and kids that are going to be coming in,” said Williams. “A couple years down the road, they`re going to have to pay for all of the money they just spent for a building that some kids might not even use.”
City officials said Ramada paid around $28,000 in property and business taxes to Wilkes-Barre.
Records show that Ramada paid Luzerne County nearly $12,000 in taxes, and nearly $34,000 in taxes were paid to Wilkes-Barre Area School District.
The president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry believes those lost tax dollars will be made up for in other ways.
""A lot of people forget, the students have a lot of buying power. So that`s going to be good for the economy. In terms of additional faculty coming in, those are higher range salaries,” said Bill Moore. “That`s going to be good for the community, again higher taxes to be collected.”
The general manager at Genetti’s Best Western in Wilkes-Barre said he is not surprise that his hotel will be the last one left downtown.
"More and more hotels are going up off the highway, and that seems to be the hotspot where everyone wants to be,” said Sam Wagner. “But downtown has been certainly coming around with the revitalization.”
Officials at the Ramada did not say when the hotel will or close or how many people will be out of a job.
Kings College said the deal should be closed on in December and that the renovated building should be ready by next fall.