Empty grocery store to be plasma donation center

A former Weis Markets is going to be a medical facility that allows people to sell plasma found in human blood, the city administration said.

Plasma sales are growing nationally, and can earn individual donors up to $300 per month, according to the American Red Cross.

The empty structure at 636 W. Third St. is owned by Weis Markets of Sunbury. Mayor Gabriel J. Campana confirmed its impending new usage.

The empty building was among those on the mayor’s list in his office of economic development opportunities to divest and make revenue.

The purpose of donating plasma, a pale yellow liquid portion of blood, is that it is lifesaving and can be easily replaced by the body. It consists mainly of water and proteins, which help the body control bleeding and infection.

Plasma is used in life-saving therapeutics and plasma-based materials are used in the treatment of serious disorders such as hemophilia and immune system deficiencies, and to treat victims of shock and burns.

It is not a substance that can be produced in a laboratory or some other artificial environment. It can only be obtained from healthy adults.

Plasma is obtained by separating the liquid portion of blood from the cells. Plasma is frozen within 24 hours of being donated in order to preserve the valuable clotting factors. It is then stored for up to one year, and thawed when needed.

Plasma is commonly transfused to trauma, burn and shock patients, as well as people with severe liver disease or multiple clotting factor deficiencies.

While the name of the owners of the facility have not been released by the administration, officials at codes department said the building would ideally be divided by a wall, with potential then for another commercial purpose on the other side.

The building has been vacant for a number of years and the owner took it through an assessment appeal, according to Nicholas Grimes, city treasurer.

It was assessed at $1.4 million and has gone to $972,440. The taxes on the property for the city went from $23,000 to $15,000 a year in the appeal, according to documents available at the city treasurer’s office. The building was marketed by Hutchinson Realty. Council exonerated and approved the changes in this year’s real estate tax, Grimes said.

Joseph Gerardi, codes administrator, described the block structure as “vanilla” build.

“That means the tenant comes in and the builder/owner gives them open space,” he said.

The proposed facility will help benefit the city because the business would go back on the tax rolls, he said.

It also benefits for hiring new employees and for any construction that happens to get the building ready for opening, he said.

Councilman Randall J. Allison said he was aware of the assessment that lowered the tax revenue for the city because of the council vote.

Allison, who is chairman of council’s economic revitalization committee, said he was not aware of the proposed use.

For a while, the building was eyed by the administration as a potential use for public safety offices of city police, but that never materialized.