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Downtown project not on council’s radar

The mayor and City Council don’t appear to be on the same page in terms of the urgency of developing a mixed-use residential/retail center in the East Third Street Gateway.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana announced this week he’s spoken to council leaders about a proposal by Daniel A. Klingerman, president and CEO of The Liberty Group, 1800 Sycamore Road in Loyalsock Township.

It would be to invest in building high-end condominiums, with added lower-level floor space for retail, a piazza-style plaza and work with the city on a parking facility. Klingerman said he would invest most of the money. A nearby parking garage could be built using federal transit and state transportation funds.

Campana said he considered the proposal a “revolutionary, game-changing” development — but it appeared to receive a red light from City Council’s leader.

Council President Randall J. Allison said he hoped Klingerman’s project would come to fruition, but added the city has storm water management costs and either repairs to City Hall or acquisition of a new building to replace City Hall.

Decisions on such matters must be council’s top priorities, Allison said in response to the mayor and the project.

“They include long-term solutions to flooding of Grafius Run and whether City Hall remains a viable building for city government next year,” Allison said, adding the economic development project, while worthy of exploring, should not be a competing priority at this time.

Campana said the project would include a new parking facility on Market Street, near the approach to the Market Street Bridge, and that would be needed as the gateway becomes a second destination similar to Liberty Arena.

To make it happen, Campana said he is receiving appraisals for two properties downtown.

“We appreciate the mayor’s enthusiasm, but we have major decisions regarding City Hall and Grafius Run,” Allison said.

“The idea has a lot of concepts and would be good if it came to fruition but the council has long-term decisions to make about City Hall before we spend millions on the present building,” he said. “Right now, the economic development project is not on council’s radar.”

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