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Developer Postpones Marywood South Proposal Going Before Scranton Zoning Board

November 14, 2018 GMT

SCRANTON — A developer withdrew his plan to convert the former Scranton State School for the Deaf into an artists’ apartment complex called Marywood South, but intends to submit a new proposal to the city and Dunmore before the end of the year.

Los Angeles-based Urban Smart Growth’s application for a variance for the one building at the deaf school campus within Scranton’s border was on the city Zoning Board’s agenda for its meeting tonight at 6 p.m.

But the firm pulled the application today based upon concerns of some neighbors, company founder Lance Robbins said this afternoon in a phone interview.

“We’re not abandoning the project,” Robbins said. “It’s a reset.”

Urban Smart Growth plans to buy from Marywood University the 10-acre site and its nine buildings in Green Ridge. Most of the property and eight buildings are in Dunmore; one structure, at 1800 N. Washington Ave., is in Scranton.

A Robbins-related firm, Brick Investment Corp., sought a variance from Scranton to use the 33,940-square-foot “Building 1” at 1800 N. Washington Ave. as a bar, restaurant and 36 units of live/art studios.

Robbins calls Building 1 the linchpin of the project that, if rejected by Scranton, will force him to walk away from the entire plan. But some Scranton residents raised concerns about potential adverse impacts from the project. On Oct. 10, the zoning board tabled the variance to give both sides time to talk. They had since met but came away without any agreement.

Robbins said his firm did not anticipate concerns about what he termed “collateral issues,” and it would be easier to start new than to try to do amendments to fill in blanks to address concerns.

“Everybody seems a lot more interested in the broader plan,” Robbins said. “We said all right, lets go back and think it through.”

Meanwhile, the Dunmore Zoning Board scheduled its own hearing — on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Dunmore Community Center on Monroe Avenue — on a variance sought by Brick Investment Corp. to convert five buildings at the deaf school campus into apartments and another one into a bed-and-breakfast.

The firm told Dunmore that uses of the remaining two buildings in Dunmore are undetermined but may include a wellness center, live/work units and a restaurant.

But the application in Dunmore also likely will be withdrawn and resubmitted, in which the firm would postpone the Dunmore variance until the Scranton variance is completed, Robbins said.

Contact the writer: jlockwood@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5185; @jlockwoodTT on Twitter