Distressed to impress: Developers share their vision for blighted town

Last year, my brother Andrew (who you were probably looking for when you found this site #sorry) bought several derelict sites at a city auction: the former Coal Hole (which contrary to what its name was NOT a gay bar, but a live-music venue), F&S Brewery (which was also repurposed as a bar) and the Jones ACE Hardware Store on Independence Street of downtown all of which in addition to The Lark Building, another property on the periphery of downtown, that he inherited from our father (as Lark was our grandmother’s maiden name).

The (Sunbury, Pa) Daily Item had a feature story this morning about his plans for two of these properties – the former Coal Hole and the former ACE Hardware. He plans on eventually turning them into hotels to cash in on the recently opened Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area, arguing the area’s abundance of vacant/blighted land (as opposed to the over saturated Lehigh Valley) make it a prime spot for new developments in the coming years.

I have been laughed at for expressing the kind of sentiments – yes, even Andy thought I was overly optimistic about the city’s prospects at one point. I may not agree with all of his plans, but they are still a push in the right direction. We’ll see which ones materialize in due time.

While I like the idea of restoring the former Coal Hole to a hotel again (as it has better parking and is within walking distance to downtown), it makes sense to focus on the smaller ACE Hardware location first. The city doesn’t currently have need for a large hotel so a smaller “boutique” hotel may do for the moment so long as it maintains the character of the area without going overboard with the theming.

The story makes no mention of either the F&S or Lark buildings… but does describe the plans (by another developer) to turn a once famous church into a bookstore, a coffeeshop (not clear if they would be the same entity or not), a visitor’s center, a museum AND a bed & breakfast.

Times have changed, and it looks like my distressed hometown’s time may have finally come…

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Categories: coal region, family, Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

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