Sterling Annex Renovation Getting Underway
WILKES-BARRE — Renovations to convert the long-vacant Hotel Sterling Annex into a modern apartment building could begin as soon as this month, developers announced Thursday.
George Albert, project engineer, said the $3.5 million project breaking ground at 19 N. River St. will produce 30 new apartment units during a phase of construction expected to wrap up by the end of 2020.
“We’ve completed the design,” Albert said. “We’re in the process of obtaining our final building permits for the project, and we’re out for bid right now.”
New York real estate developer Fatos Mucha and his family purchased the property last year, Albert said. Mucha said Thursday that he saw great opportunity in the location.
“I saw the opportunity that this is a great, great chance to be part of this development and to be an initiator of the downtown,” Mucha said.
The annex project is not affiliated with a $35 million mixed-use project planned on the adjacent former Hotel Sterling site, which is being led by developer Hyshni “Sam” Syla. However, Mucha said he is “looking to negotiate with” Syla going forward.
Mucha said developers have already negotiated bids for a few jobs and that he expects work to begin later this month.
“Already we’ve ordered windows — we’re bringing something from Europe so it’s a different style,” Mucha said. “The facade will be wonderful. It’s going to be a great view. We tried to preserve the look of the building because you guys know that there is a lot of history in this town.”
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George, who is up for re-election, was on hand for the announcement to tout the project as the latest in a series of high-profile changes to the cityscape in recent months.
“I’m proud to say people are starting to see the advantages of living downtown. That whole perception where you can’t come down, it’s crime-ridden — it’s gone now,” George said. “Everybody understands now that the city is the place to be.”