Com­mit­tee formed to over­see for­mer Days Inn prop­erty

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Christina Tatu

Mayor Sal Panto Jr. on Mon­day an­nounced the names of those who will serve on a com­mit­tee to re­view pro­pos­als for 185 S. Third St., the va­cant 3-acre par­cel that was once slated to be the se­cond lo­ca­tion of a Da Vinci Science Cen­ter.

In July, the city is­sued a re­quest for pro­pos­als for the site for­merly oc­cu­pied by a Days Inn ho­tel next door to City Hall. Those re­quests are due to the city Fri­day.

While an end use wasn’t spec­i­fied in the re­quest, it said city of­fi­cials want a dense, mixed-use de­vel­op­ment that will in­volve sub­stan­tial job creation.

There were 16 mem­bers ap­pointed to the com­mit­tee, which will meet sev­eral times over the next two months to in­ter­view de­vel­op­ers who have re­sponded to the re­quest for pro­pos­als.

The goal is to rec­om­mend one of those pro­pos­als to City Coun­cil by the beginning of De­cem­ber, with pub­lic hear­ings to be­gin in the new year, city of­fi­cials said in a state­ment is­sued late Mon­day afternoon.

The group will be mod­er­ated by Le­high Univer­sity pro­fes­sor and ur­ban plan­ner Karen Beck Poo­ley and will also re­ceive guid­ance from city of­fi­cials in­clud­ing Panto, City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Luis Cam­pos, Di­rec­tor of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment John Kings­ley, Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Works Dave Hop­kins and Di­rec­tor of Plan­ning and Codes Stephen Nowroski.

City Coun­cil mem­bers San­dra Vul­cano and Roger Rug­gles will also pro­vide guid­ance.

The city, which pur­chased the Days Inn par­cel in Jan­uary 2018, will hold the ti­tle to the prop­erty un­til a time the city and de­vel­oper agree on a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial own­er­ship strat­egy, the July re­quest said.

Ear­lier this month, City Coun­cil voted unan­i­mously to re­fi­nance a $6.7 mil­lion bond that was used to buy and de­mol­ish the Days Inn.

City Fi­nance Di­rec­tor Mark Lysy­necky had said the orig­i­nal bond was a two-year note that was due at the end of this year. The re­fi­nanc­ing gives city of­fi­cials un­til Dec. 15, 2021, to pay off the note, but of­fi­cials hope a de­vel­oper is iden­ti­fied be­fore then to take over the prop­erty.

Eas­ton of­fi­cials will work with the de­vel­oper to de­sign the project, struc­ture a long-term own­er­ship strat­egy for the prop­erty, as­sist the de­vel­oper through the city and state per­mit­ting process and help se­cure pub­lic fund­ing if it’s re­quired, the July re­quest said.

Panto on Mon­day also an­nounced the creation of an af­ford­able hous­ing task force that was ap­pointed with the goal of mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions to City Coun­cil on leg­is­la­tion and pro­grams that could as­sist with cre­at­ing af­ford­able hous­ing.

Panto had iden­ti­fied that task force as a goal dur­ing his bud­get ad­dress ear­lier this year. That 11-mem­ber task force also in­cludes city staff mem­bers Kings­ley and Chief Plan­ner Carl Manges.

Mem­bers of the 185 S. Third St. Com­mit­tee:

Su­san Ea­gle, Frank Pintabone, An­thony Mar­rac­cini, Matt Loeb­sack, Patti Mowad Berger, Diane Hav­i­land, Bar­bara Milewski, Clay Mit­man, Joe Feilmeier, Renee Mowad, Gretchen Rice, Charles El­liott, Rachel Ho­gan-Carr, Phil Mit­man, Betty Mauro, Tina Smith.

Mem­bers of the Af­ford­able Hous­ing Task Force:

The Rev. Sue Rug­gles, Theresa Martin, Yousuf Dahl, Ross Mar­cus, Neal Ko­plin, Amy Boc­cadoro, Gene Pam­bianchi, Kathy Presto, Jeff Poch, Alisa Baratta, Kurt Carl­son.

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