Luzerne County receives one purchase offer for old juvenile detention center

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | July 28th, 2016 7:29 pm

Luzerne County has received one purchase offer for the former county juvenile detention center in Wilkes-Barre, which has been vacant for more than a decade.

The administration issued a public request seeking bids from interested buyers last month.

The offer was for $20,000 and comes with conditions, county Administrative Services Division Head David Parsnik said Thursday.

Other details, including the identity of the prospective buyer, won’t be released until the county council first discusses the matter at a work session next month, Parsnik said. The council must approve all sales of county-owned real estate.

County Manager C. David Pedri said a sale would save the county an estimated $400,000 to tear down the structure, which is accessible from a driveway off North River Street.

The center is on the same tax assessment parcel as the county prison on Water Street. If the offer is accepted, the buyer must pay all costs to subdivide the center into a separate 1.93-acre parcel.

Pedri first confirmed a prospective buyer had surfaced in May and released the request for proposals to determine if others were interested in the public building.

The three-story structure, which sits atop a hill overlooking the prison, has been empty since former county judge Michael Conahan deemed it unfit for habitation and stopped sending juveniles there in 2002.

The center had passed state inspection at that time, but Conahan returned the center’s license to the state, forcing its closure and leading to the county’s use of a private detention center that played a role in corruption charges against Conahan and others.

Built in 1937 as a women’s prison, the center is solid and not leaking but needs a new furnace and other repairs, officials have said. Its choppy layout and shortage of parking makes it unsuitable for county reuse, officials have concluded.

The center roof was replaced in 2003 but is “showing signs of age,” the recent request for proposals said.

Luzerne County’s former juvenile detention center County’s former juvenile detention center

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.