WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- City leaders say big changes are on the way to Wilkes-Barre.
Renovations continue at the former Citizens Bank building downtown, luxury apartments are being developed, a new downtown restaurant opened in the past year, and Tuesday night, city council heard detailed plans for the site of the former Hotel Sterling.
Developers say a 12- to 14-story building at the site of the demolished hotel will be called the Gateway Center and would feature a hotel, upscale condos, office and retail space, and a parking garage.
Renderings of the proposed Gateway Center, created by architects Ergen Agalliu and Dorina Pllumbi of 3plusarchitects, were on display.
The Hotel Sterling was demolished years ago, and since then, the site has stood empty.
"I think trying to build something up and make something greater than it was is something positive that has worked in other places. Maybe it can come here to Wilkes-Barre, too,” said Cassandra Merrill of Wilkes-Barre.
The development downtown has some people excited.
"I've been living and working in Wilkes-Barre for three years now. I've seen it change quite a bit over those three years. So far, all those changes seem to be positive,” said Chris DeMarco.
"A lot of businesses left, and now, they're coming back, and I think it's going to become even better. More businesses, more people, I think it's going to be a great change,” said college student Pavel Rodriguez.
There are still empty spaces downtown and news that an M&T Bank branch right across from the Sterling site will close in June.
Still, people say most of the changes in the city are positive ones.
"The city is actually pretty good, a lot of people talk about Wilkes-Barre being bad, and I think that it's OK,” said Jonathan Jiminez of Wilkes-Barre.
Gateway Center developers say they would like to break ground on the project in 12 to 18 months. They have also expressed interest in buying the Sterling annex building on River Street.