WILKES-BARRE -- Come next year, you'll notice more college students in downtown Wilkes-Barre. That's because, this week, King's College officially purchased the former Ramada Inn on Public Square.
For years, King's College students who needed temporary housing stayed at the Ramada Inn on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. Now the building will be a permanent home to classrooms and some 200 students. It's all part of a big King's College expansion plan.
"We really needed added space. In addition to added space, for the first time, we're looking at international markets next spring," said King's College president Father John Ryan.
At a news conference Thursday, engineers revealed plans for the building. On the first two floors, there will be classroom space for the physician assistant and athletic training education programs and for the new exercise science program. Dorm rooms and suites will fill the upper floors.
King's officials estimate the increase in students and 20 additional jobs will bring about $2 million a year into downtown Wilkes-Barre. That's a bonus for businesses such as the deli Circles on the Square.
"I think the concentration of people in the college, with the residences, that's a lot of hungry college students. College students love Circles," said Circles owner Phil Rudy.
Ann Nafus of Edwardsville thinks turning the Ramada into classrooms and dorms is a good idea, but feels there may have been something better out there.
"Like a restaurant or have something that has more jobs to it," said Nafus.
But, with King's College expanding farther down North Main Street and Wilkes University farther up South Main Street, Father Ryan says, "I think it's great for the college. It's great for the students. It's great for the city and local area."
Renovation on the former hotel is expected to start in the coming weeks and finish next August.