Last updated: February 19. 2013 10:16PM - 539 Views

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Construction is under way downtown, this time on the property at William and North Main streets.

The building directly on the corner has been razed and the adjoining building will be gutted, enforced with steel beams and two stories will be added.

The new second and third floors will house the non-profit North Penn Legal Services. Currently the firm has offices in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, but will consolidate offices in Pittston. A total of 30 employees, including 22 lawyers, will move into the office, according to a spokesman from the developer, Gilbro Realty Inc.

Total, 40 new employees will be located in the downtown, and more than 100 workers will be at the property over the next 18 months as construction progresses.

On the first floor, a physical and aquatic therapy, Cawley Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation, will move into one of the storefronts.

Developers are also in talks to bring a UPS Store to the building.

Combined, it will be roughly 14,000 square feet of office and retail space.

Michael Lombardo, a member of city's redevelopment authority, said the project is a win across the board.

First, he said, it returns a piece of property to the tax rolls of Pittston City, Pittston Area School District and Luzerne County.

Second, the project will place roughly 60 more people downtown each day.

That steady flow of pedestrians is what we want, Lombardo said. There's more of a captive audience now and that's good for all the businesses.

Third, he said, the project fits within the design standards for the aesthetic of downtown.

Lombardo said that corner lot has had thriving businesses for years. Most recently, it was a billiards hall and City Carpet. Previously it was the original home of Demuro's Pizza. I remember growing up there was a Hallmark card shop there, too.

He said much of the property has sat vacant for years, though. The corner building was razed within the past two years and the right turn, from William Street onto North Main Street, has been softened.

That used to be a hard corner to make, especially if you were a tractor trailer, Lombardo said. PennDOT came in and helped with the project and they softened the radius.

He said there's also a bigger buffer zone for pedestrians.

Lombardo credits of the offices of state Rep. Mike Carroll and state Sen. John Yudichak, and his predecessor, former state Sen. Raphael Musto, in helping get state grant funding for the project.

Lombardo said the city is now in a better position to say what types of tenants it wants in the downtown.

At one point, we would have taken anything, he said. Now that there is demand, we can be more selective in terms of development.

He used a national auto lube shop as an example.

There are just some things that wouldn't fit downtown.

Lombardo said the plan is progressing nicely.

Getting a project like this off the ground and done in two years, that could be a world record.

The former LaFratte's eatery in the same block has been transformed into Fuji, a restaurant, which is expected to open in February.

The building housing Dr. Joseph Costello's podiatry practice is not part of the project.

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