WILKES-BARRE--- The Guard Insurance building on South River Street is a big part of the Wilkes-Barre City skyline.
Even though Berkshire Hathaway Guard is moving its national headquarters to the Wilkes-Barre Center Tower on Public Square, city leaders said that one way or another, the current Guard building will not be empty.
“It’s a very visible location. The property is in great shape. We're not exactly sure what the plans will be for that location, but we're glad to see it's still going to be an active location in the city,” Wilkes-Barre City Administrator Ted Wampole said.
“It’s a very nice building. For it go down and not be used it would be unfortunate,” Chris Thomas, who works in downtown and lives in Dallas, said.
City officials said the place on South River Street is not for sale just yet. Guard may end up needing some of the space while the company expands.
“I'm a small business owner and I think that's the best thing for Wilkes-Barre, to give more jobs and get people off the street, you know, working,” Florito Ortiz of Wilkes-Barre said.
Guard Insurance expects to keep the nearly 450 employees it already has, plus add 300 new jobs at its national headquarters on Public Square.
Even though the Guard building is not on the market now, there is a nearby property that is for sale.
Across the street from the Guard building is the lot where the old Hotel Sterling used to the stand. City leaders said there is interest in the property. They want it to be filled with things like apartments, retail, and green space.
“We're very confident that we'll actually have a buyer for the Sterling lot within the first quarter of 2018,” Wampole said.
“More taxes for the city, more money going into the businesses right around the square. It's a nice environment for people who work around here. Puts a smile on our face,” Thomas said.
City leaders said there are a number of serious buyers for the Hotel Sterling lot. They will be making their pitches to the city in the coming weeks.