SCRANTON, Pa. -- Scranton city officials are weighing options for the 130-year-old City Hall building downtown. Should the city spend millions making renovations or sell it?
Scranton's business administrator sent a letter to the mayor and city council over the weekend laying out the pros and cons of city government staying on North Washington Avenue. He points out another option just a few blocks away.
Scranton City Hall was built in 1888. In 2019, its list of problems feels as long as its history.
A structural engineering firm recently gave the city an estimate of more than $10 million to get the building back in shape.
The city's business administrator David Bulzoni estimates that price tag could go up to $12 million. He wrote in a letter to city council and the mayor that given the cost, other options should be considered.
He pointed out the PenFed Credit Union building a few blocks away on Franklin Avenue. He says it will soon be up for sale and could be a turnkey option for city government.
City council member Wayne Evans is hoping City Hall will stay put but is willing to hear from potential buyers.
"I'm willing to listen to what's out there, what the proposals might be. If it makes sense to us, that it's a good idea, they would preserve City Hall, the new owner if there is one, then we should listen to that, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is to take care of that building and not kick the can down the road like we've done for generations," said Evans.
While City Hall has remained the same for more than a century, the neighborhood around it has changed. Business owners here are split on who should ultimately own and pay for Scranton City Hall.
"I say move. Let the building be used for another purpose. We can redistribute that money in other ways, especially for the city," said Garry Melville, Analog Culture.
"It says who Scranton is. It's about our history. It's something that cannot leave the city's possession. It can be reused if parts of it need to be rented out to raise funds, if we need to start a campaign, state, federal money to get matching grants, matching funds. I'm happy to be first on the committee to help save and preserve it for the next generation," said Josh Mast from Posh at the Scranton Club.
Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright says City Hall is not for sale at this point, and that all options are on the table. He did tell us that if city government moved, he would like a new owner to promise to restore the building to its former glory.