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Developers Aim to Brighten Freeland’s Future

FREELAND -- At first glance Centre Street looks sleepy enough to nap forever.

Rob Torner and Liza Robles are hoping to be the borough's alarm clock.

The couple who moved from New Jersey to Luzerne County has about half a dozen business development projects in Freeland and hopes to add more to the list.

Torner says, "I am a romantic, I love old things, I hate seeing things die out, I think there is new life in everything, a town, a piece of wood, people."

Even on Easter Newswatch 16 found the developers showing a storefront to a man who hopes to open a bakery.

The aspiring baker, Darren Petrone says of Torner, "I would have never had it if it wasn't for him, nobody is really doing anything in this town, it was kind of dormant until he came around and started making everything nice again."

Torner and Robles say they set their sights on Freeland because the community is close to two major interstates and property is a bargain.

Robles says, "It reminds us of where we are from many years ago, we are trying to help build it up."

In the works; an old furniture store could become a laundromat, tiles will be removed to reveal a pressed tin ceiling. A pair of eateries could be open by May, bright murals are already in place for a taco shop. A building beyond repair was recently demolished.

Torner says his crew did the work by hand to recycle as much wood as possible. He jokes, "We were trying to do it caveman style." Some of that re-purposed wood has already found a new life as a counter for a beauty salon.

The couple admits, their bold plans have raised a few eyebrows with officials and some residents, but add recently they have found some of those doubters becoming supportive.

"You have your believers and your non-believers, and I believe this town can really thrive again," says John Koldesco.

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