Non-profit Fundraiser Helps Showcase Scranton’s Growth In Downtown Living

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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.


  • Franko

    City of Scranton is a joke — they over pay their workers, many of whom do nothing — go to City Hall and you will discover that over the years that the assistants had assistants. Walk by some of the offices — no one there but they are all getting paid. They had all those summer positions that were created for their kids or other family members so they have summer jobs, almost none of which where advertised to the public to apply. Over the last 30 years, they seem to have filled regula city positions, fire department positions, and police positions all without doing what is required of municipalities—- To Publicly Advertise those positions availability and having either civil service testing or open applications available. Their city workers, including the schools districts, refuse to do like the rest of us do — pay into benefits. They want something for nothing when it comes to benefits. Go around the country and you will discover that the large majority of places have eliminated pensions in place for a 401(k). Existing workers were grandfathered in and still had their pensions, but either no more future contributions made or in same cases their are, and they have the option of doing the 401(k), while all new employees only have a 401(k). I can understand maybe firefighters and police, but all the other city pensions so go bye-bye and go to 401(k). Their local taxes are higher then the state income taxes, which is ridiculous to begin with. They should have a floating tax rate based upon how much you make. Flat taxes do not work out anymore. They have DPW workers, that if you follow them around, as some of us have, you discover than many of them spend time parked in alleys and such, instead of working – there is no accountability. Just like city council — you miss so many meetings/votes, then you should be out. As for the city itself — crumbling buildings nad homes because they city does nothing about blight. Drive around and you see places, especially when you drive tthrough alleys and see the rear of buildings and homes, and you either see junk yards or see buildings in conditions that make you ask “Are there honestly people staying in that place?” How many times have you seen porches that are almost falling down ? The city does nothing. They don’t inspect rental units to make sure there are at least smoke detectors. Then there is the mall — a bad idea from the start. 21 years ago many people said it wouldn’t last — city malls don’t work out in many areas. It’s a poor city and you go filling it with stores with over priced apparel. And growth in downtown living ? You mean those high priced apartments ? They leave out the fact that there is no place to park and it costs you something like $1200+ a year to park. That city would do much better as a backdrop for The Walking Dead, because that about how much life is left in the city. As for nightlife — well, we are a bar capital. Tons of drunk university students roaming around, with very little DUI enforcement. You can drive by any bar and see tons of drunk people stumble into their cars and drive away because they know what areas that cops hang around at night.

  • Charlie Lucky

    This is really pretty, it really is,” said Lucille Koehler of Lake Ariel. “It’s very geared on Manhattan, very Manhattanish like.” There are 2 kinds of people who live in Manhattan, the ver very rich, and the very very poor. So tell me, who in NEPA,that is very very rich, wants to live in the City of Scranton?????? Anyone?? So that leaves who, to live there???

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