SCRANTON -- A building that's been part of Scranton's history for well over a century is beginning to see new life.
The Bittenbender building will soon be home to three new businesses and apartments. One of the businesses, a bar and restaurant, is holding its grand opening Friday night.
The brick work and painted signs on the Bittenbender building on Franklin Avenue in Scranton lend themselves to an earlier time. Its new owner thinks it was built in the 1870s.
It was long home to Whistles Pub and Restaurant but has been shuttered since 2011. it will officially reopen its doors this weekend and the new restaurateurs think they are bucking a trend.
"Look at the news this week. We have the mall, possible foreclosure and other businesses leaving. We think this is the other side of that story, that there are still people re-investing and they still believe in the city," said John Brazil.
The Brazil family from Scranton was putting the finishing touches on Ale Mary's, a sports bar and restaurant that's been in development for several months. Their hope was to have the place open in time for Scranton's St. Patrick's Day parade next Saturday.
"It's been a lot of hard work, a lot of dirt, a lot of sweat, a lot of dust. We are really excited about this opportunity. This building is really tremendous," said Karen Brazil.
Ale Mary's isn't their only project. The Bittenbender building actually has space for three restaurants. There's a seafood restaurant planned for right next door and another bar in the back.
The owner of the building is also renovating the second and third floors into apartments set to open in the summer. The other businesses are planned for the fall.
It's a lot of activity at a building that's been vacant for more than three years.
And it's promising news for the folks at Penn Furniture who have shared this block with the Bittenbender for 120 years.
"We're glad to see it finally hitting our neighborhood here. We were sad when Whistles closed down but now that they're opening up, they have a very impressive project over there. We're excited," said Adam Jaffe of Penn Furniture.