Federal Courthouse Renovations to Take Five Months

SCRANTON -- One of downtown Scranton's architectural gems is getting some repairs this summer and the work could tie up traffic on Courthouse Square.

The original part of the federal courthouse on North Washington Avenue and Linden Street was built back in 1931 for about $1 million. The renovations being done to the building this summer are going to cost more than double that.

Scaffolding now covers the 1930s architectural details that make the William J. Nealon Federal Building and Courthouse a favorite in downtown Scranton.

Workers put the scaffolding together piece by piece making their way to the roof where most of the work will be done this summer. The U.S. General Services Administration says renovations should cost about $2.3 million.

The 400 block of Linden Street will be shut down for much of the five-month project and cranes will eventually come in to lift materials to the roof.

As Francis DeAndrea looked up at it, all he worried about his business, Scranton Dry Cleaners, below.

"Well, the worry is just business, a matter of, I don't know, if I could survive July, through July with conditions like this. It's very, very difficult," DeAndrea said.

DeAndrea says customers will still have access to his business from an adjacent court but he expects to lose a lot of drive-by business during the project.

"It's just such an inconvenience, and originally we were told it was going to be shut down for a week. Now, it's going to be July or August before it's open again. Now, it's going to be open on weekends but we're closed on the weekends so it doesn't do us any good."

Other businesses weren't too worried; customers are accustomed to congestion downtown.

"The parking garage is confusing anyway for most people. I don't think it's going to make too much of a difference. They'll just have to enter through the Washington Avenue side," said Tom Sheakoski, Pizza by Pappas.

While repairing the roof, workers will also install lightning protection and new heating and cooling units on top of the federal building, all the while being sensitive to the building's architecture.

"Anything that saves the original architecture down in Scranton is always fantastic. It's a beautiful city; people should take time to look around and look up once in a while."