WILKES-BARRE -- The former Bartikowsky's Jewelry building in Wilkes-Barre has been closed for more than a year. On Wednesday, we learned it will be part of a $4.5 million expansion project at Wilkes University.
"It's both at once an investment in academic excellence, and it helps in the city's efforts to revitalize the downtown," said Wilkes President Dr. Patrick Leahy.
Most of the $4.5 million will go to renovating the University Center on Main, or UCOM building, into the new Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership, making campus life a little easier for business students such as Nicole Clemson.
"My classes are pretty spread out, so I'm excited to have a little bit of a shorter commute and be all in one place where my faculty are, as well as all of my peers," said Wilkes graduate student Nicole Clemson.
While renovations are underway at the UCOM building, the offices inside will move to the former Bartikowsky's building. But it's unclear what the former jewelry store will be used for long-term.
"I think it's something that needs to be done. Instead of tearing buildings down, I think they need to be re-fabricated and have something done with the city," said William Flynn of Wilkes-Barre.
Another part of the plan is a gateway in between the two buildings. Part of the Bartikowsky's building would come down and a green space will connect the campus to downtown Wilkes-Barre.
"The connection to downtown is so important. There's so much that Wilkes-Barre has to offer our students," said Clemson.
Renovations on the UCOM building are set to begin next month. University officials hope to have it completed by August. The gateway is expected to be completed by sometime in the 2014-2015 school year.