WILKES-BARRE — It’s been eight months since several buildings in danger of collapsing were demolished in downtown Wilkes-Barre. The remaining businesses along that stretch of South Main Street what were forced to temporarily leave are empty again.
What was once was a historic building in downtown Wilkes-Barre is now empty.
“A lot of stores are closing down. They’re cutting back on hours. They’re firing people, and how is that supposed to help anybody?” asked Terrisa Dorr of Wilkes-Barre.
The Frank Clark Building was home to a jewelry store decades ago, and after years of being abandoned, owner Ilona Bruns reopened it last year.
But in November, several nearby buildings on South Main Street were demolished for fear they would collapse. During the demolition, the dress shop at Place 1 at the Hollywood and Frank Clark Jewelers were asked to leave.
Frank Clark Jewelers came back mid-December, but has moved out again.
“By the time I was allowed to get back in, there was no time to do advertising and you know, getting customers in the door,” said Frank Clark Jewelers owner Ilona Bruns.
Bruns says she lost so much business during the holidays, she couldn’t afford to stay in this location. She’s now running her business from Ocean Gold on Main Street in Nanticoke.
Folks who live around here say they’re not surprised that some of these businesses aren’t returning to the city, but they say they’re disappointed to see more empty storefronts downtown.
“Not good for the economy. Around here, people need jobs.”
But Place 1 at the Hollywood is expected to return by the end of the summer. Owner Michaelene Coffee is now working from space on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton. While she plans to return to Wilkes-Barre, she admits none of this has been easy.
“It could have been prevented if we had known, if we were given some time, if there were other arrangements made,” said Coffee.
The owner of Frank Clark Jewelers says she tried to get help from the city, but that no one would help her. We reached out to city officials. They say that’s not true and they did everything they could to help the owner.