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Developer pursuing rehab of Valmont Plaza site

But another developer has decided not to pursue development in Swoyersville.

WEST PITTSTON – While one developer has backed off a long-anticipated housing project in Swoyersville, another is making progress on a $68 million mall rehabilitation in West Hazleton.

Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority board members learned on Tuesday that Swoyersville Development Group decided not to extend an agreement to buy 50 acres from the authority for $590,000 for a residential housing project first proposed several years ago.

The board voted to return the developer’s $59,000 deposit. Executive Director Alan Bellas said the authority will seek other developers for the land.

Bellas said the reason given by the developer was that the timing wasn’t right for the project.

The board also got some good news.

WP Realty – the Bryn Mawr company that redeveloped the West Side Mall in Edwardsville and attracted a new Lowe’s Home Improvement Center that opened there in 2007 – again has begun actively seeking tenants for the Valmont Plaza shopping center site on Route 93 in West Hazleton, Bellas said.

WP Realty plans to demolish part of the plaza and more than double its size with new construction. The plaza would be renamed West Hazleton Commons.

Authority employees met on-site with West Hazleton Mayor Mark Rockovich and WP Realty Vice President of Construction and Development Management Dan Fuchs on April 8 to review a progress plan.

The authority board last year approved a $4.7 million Tax Incremental Financing plan for the project. Commonly called a TIF, the plan directs that 80 percent of new property taxes generated by the project over the next 17 years would be used to pay off a $4.7 million loan for infrastructure improvements at the site.

Luzerne County, the Hazleton Area School District and West Hazleton would receive the remainder of newly generated property taxes. After the TIF expired in 17 years, the taxing bodies would receive 100 percent of taxes based on the property assessment.

Bellas said WP Realty has already invested about $10 million in the project.

In other business, the board agreed to sponsor an application for a $75,000 state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant to construct a recreation area and playground near May and Coal streets in Jenkins Township.

WP Realty, the Bryn Mawr company that redeveloped the West Side Mall in Edwardsville, is actively seeking tenants for Valmont Plaza in West Hazleton.

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