SCRANTON — The city of Scranton got to showcase its recent growth of downtown living Friday night, offering a tour of eight historic buildings that are all in the process of being refurnished with modern apartments.
This comes as the city is attempting to tackle a controversial recovery plan to get out of its financial hole.
As folks took a look around these newly modeled apartments at the Bittenbender Building on Franklin Avenue, many were impressed; some downright shocked.
“This is really pretty, it really is,” said Lucille Koehler of Lake Ariel. “It’s very geared on Manhattan, very Manhattanish like.”
People had the opportunity to view Scranton’s recent growth in downtown living, taking a tour of eight historic buildings, including the former Banshee Bar and Restaurant and the former Chamber of Commerce.
Many said curiosity drove them to coming out.
“I`ve always wanted to see what those apartments look like in some of the old buildings and I think it`s an interesting way to live,” said Cathy Mascelli of Dunmore.
This push to promote the Electric City comes as Scranton is attempting to tackle a controversial financial recovery plan.
City council just approved a commuter tax on non-residents who work in Scranton to fund the city`s distressed pension accounts.
For commuters here on the tour, feelings are mixed.
“I`m not really happy about the commuter tax either so I just feel the city of Scranton should be able to bail themselves out of their problems, Throop does,” said Terry Rothstein who commutes from Throop.
“I have no problems with it, if it helps with the pension plan and if it gets Scranton out of hole it’s in,” said Mary Shields who commutes from Spring Brook Township.
The future of the Mall at Steamtown, a major fixture in the downtown, is uncertain as the mortgage holder recently bought building after the mall went into foreclosure.
“I love Boscov’s, I go there all the time, find whatever I want right there,” said Shields. “I hope they develop that, that Steamtown Mall.”
But many said seeing this rebirth of old buildings is a sign of hope for the city.
“If it’s going to thrive, it’s going to have to thrive on making use of its old building, repurposing them and providing continuing character for the city,” said David Stockwell from Lake Wallenpaupack.
There was a fee for this tour with proceeds going to the non-profit Voluntary Action Center.