Scranton Official Plans Park Coffee Shop
The director of the city’s licensing, inspections and permits department hopes to open a specialty coffee shop in an unused Nay Aug Park building that formerly housed restrooms.
LIPs director Patrick Hinton said Monday he hopes to open the shop, which would also offer healthy, organic food, by next spring.
The city Municipal Recreation Authority sought proposals for renovating and using the building, according to a copy of the July 21, 2016, legal advertisement seeking proposals published in The Times-Tribune. Only Hinton submitted a proposal, authority board Chairman Bob Gattens said.
Hinton, who has directed the city’s chief building oversight department since after Mayor Bill Courtright took office in 2014, said he asked the recreation board in 2014 or 2015 to consider his proposal for a coffee shop in the approximately 700-square-foot building.
“The board loved the idea,” Hinton said, but attorney Tim Corbett, the board’s solicitor, suggested seeking proposals. “By the time we worked out a lease it was almost a year,” Hinton said.
The 10-year lease commenced in July 2017, and Hinton has two years to open the coffee shop, Gattens said. Hinton gets two years rent-free because the building isn’t open and then must pay monthly rent, Gattens said. The lease lasts 10 years and rent is $3,000 a year, Corbett said at the board’s meeting Monday night.
“There was a process (of seeking proposals),” Gattens said. “It was the right process ... Everything was done the way it should be done.”
Hinton said he spent the last year developing plans.
Hinton, whose office would normally review proposals on building codes, said he sought an outside building code review of his plans.
“Because of my position, I went above and beyond to make sure this wouldn’t be a conflict,” he said.
Hinton said the building opened as a restroom for women in 1905 with an addition for male restrooms added later.
He could find no city records for how the building was used between 1918 and 2004. The city renovated the building and reopened it as restrooms in 2005 with access limited to people hosting events in the park, he said. The building hasn’t been used since 2010, he said.
He asked former Mayor Chris Doherty about operating a coffee shop there when Doherty was still in office, but the now-defunct Shooky’s Restaurant had the exclusive right to park concessions at the time, Hinton said. He said he revived the idea in 2014.
Clayton Over, staff writer, contributed to this report.
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