SCRANTON -- Several properties in one city block of Scranton were auctioned off Tuesday afternoon.
They included the old Castle Restaurant on North Main Avenue.
The winning bidder is a realty company whose work you may be familiar with if you live in Lackawanna County. John Basalyga of J. Bas Realty was the highest bidder for four of the five buildings up for auction. He said it's still early, but he's planning to turn the block on North Main Avenue into retail and residential space.
In the basement of the old iconic Castle Restaurant, one by one, an auctioneer sold the place and most of its neighbors on North Main Avenue.
The owner of five buildings on the block just down from Providence Square decided to auction off the properties. All but one of them went to one highest bidder. John Basalyga, who has made a name for himself in real estate in Lackawanna County.
In all, Basalyga bid $172,500 for four of the historic buildings.
In the last few years, his company J. Bas Realty has renovated other historic buildings in Lackawanna County and turned them into apartments. Currently, the former Specialty Records plant in Olyphant that is set to reopen as apartments next month.
Basalyga told Newswatch 16 that he hopes to turn the North Main Avenue block in Scranton into residential and retail space.
About 20 people signed up to bid at the auction. Some just came to watch. Bernie McGurl with the Lackawanna Valley Conservancy wanted to see who has the highest bid. The property backs up to the conservancy's property.
"We want to get it all cleaned up so we can walk from a newly created business district here, down a pathway, to the river," McGurl said.
Business owners along North Main Avenue watched the auction closely, too. Debby Hughes, part owner of Main Street Music, has a lot of hope for the block now.
"The more retail that comes in, its good for all of us. Because the more people looking for retail things, they tend to shop around and come into other stores while there at one spot," Hughes said.
The highest bidder, John Basalyga, said he still needs to wait and see if his bid is accepted. He bid for all but one of the buildings, the corner lot that used to be Buckingham Oriental Rugs. But Basalyga said, if he gets a better offer, he could buy that building too.