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Former Lackawanna County admin building expected to be on tax roll next year

SCRANTON — Lackawanna County’s former administration building could house a relocated Lavish salon in May and its first residential tenants in September.

Commissioners Patrick O’Malley and Laureen Cummings joined developer Charles Jefferson and Lavish co-owner Micah Woodard outside 200 Adams Ave. on Thursday to announce plans for the former Stoehr & Fister Building. Jefferson’s firm, Jefferson-Werner LLC, and the county are expected to close on the $1.6 million sale of the building in the coming days, meaning the property should return to the tax rolls next year.

Jefferson plans a $14 million retrofit of the six-story structure to include 65 rental units and a large ground-floor retail space. In touting the project, Jefferson lauded the “unlimited potential” of Scranton’s downtown, especially the area surrounding Courthouse Square where the former administration building stands.

He compared Courthouse Square to historic Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia’s Center City.

“You have a building across the street (the courthouse) that’s every bit as awesome as any place else,” Jefferson said. “I have people come in from a finance standpoint and I describe the Courthouse Square as Rittenhouse Square. The only difference is Rittenhouse Square doesn’t have an awesome building like that in the center of it.”

Lavish, which maintains a salon and retail shop at Linden Street and Adams Avenue and a spa inside Jefferson’s Connell Lofts building on North Washington Avenue, will move both operations next year into 7,000 square feet of street-level space in the former administration building.

“We’ve severely outgrown the space,” said Woodard, who co-owns the business with his wife, Lauren. “This really gives us the ability to grow into our full potential.”

The commissioners said selling and returning the former administration building to the tax rolls represents another promise kept in the course of consolidating county government at the former Globe store on Wyoming Avenue.

“We said when we … took over in the Globe in April of 2016 that we’d sell this administration building or at least have the buyer in line for when we left,” O’Malley said, noting the building has been tax exempt since the 1970s. “Well, our promise was we weren’t going to let this be sold just to a nonprofit. That this would go back on the tax rolls. That this would give back to Lackawanna County citizens. That this would be part of our tax base.”

Cummings summed it up in a few words.

“Promises made, promises kept,” she said.

Jefferson stressed his project will bring jobs and economic development to a vital corner of the city’s downtown, attracting more residents who will patronize area businesses and providing apartments for those who choose to live there.

Work inside the building could begin in the coming weeks, he said.

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