By Steve Mocarsky - Published: November 15, 2018 (Citizens Voice)
PLAINS TWP. — Two years ago, Ross Spengler and his wife decided to sell their 50-acre horse farm in the Back Mountain and retire in a home that didn’t demand their constant upkeep.
A buyer made a deposit and, with 90 days left till closing, Spengler said to his wife, “Honey, we better start looking for a house.”
The Spenglers, who owned two dogs, four cats and a horse at the time, looked and looked, but couldn’t find anything remotely suitable.
Fortunately for them and dozens of others looking for pet-friendly luxury digs in the Wyoming Valley, the sale of the farm fell through, and Ross began working with architect and designer Kim Rosentel on plans to build a luxury riverfront apartment complex next to two waterfront office buildings on River Street that Spengler developed over 10 years ago.
On Wednesday, dozens of curious potential tenants filled the back rooms of the River Grille — which is located in one of those two office buildings — for an open house where they viewed architectural renderings of the apartments and on-site amenities.
Floor plans showed living spaces ranging from 543-square-foot studio apartments to a 2,050-square-foot two-bedroom penthouse suite. The approximately $25 million eight-story complex also will offer a fitness center, outdoor putting green, enclosed pet park, above-ground and underground parking and numerous other conveniences. The ground floor will have retail shops for tenants’ food, refreshment, health, leisure and beauty needs.
Rents start at $1,200 per month.
“I really wanted to see what … it had to offer. Being on the river, I wanted to see what the view from the apartments would look like,” said Karen Keen, of Bear Creek Twp.
Keen, 57, said she likes what she saw, but she’s not going to rent an apartment just yet.
“Maybe in the future, once I retire. I think it’d be a nice location, especially with all the amenities. I think it’s great for the area. Elderly people need a place they can feel safe and still be close to the conveniences of the city. It’s a great idea to have a shuttle service,” she said. “It’s definitely something I’ll be interested in upon retirement, there’s no doubt.”
Rich Karlotski, of Plymouth, said he and Marilyn Fravel, who have been together 23 years, “are going to be retiring. We’re in our late 60s now. It makes sense to lease a high-end place where you can be safe and close to the city and the hospital instead of living in a home and cutting grass and shoveling snow.”
Craig Kasper, who did a marketing study for Spengler, said such apartments are in demand locally. The closest alternative luxury apartments in Pittston and downtown Wilkes-Barre are at 95 to 100 percent capacity, he said.
Gershom Spengler, Ross’ son and project manager, said the open house was well-attended. Ten people already presented deposit checks.
Ross Spengler said realtors and developers are working to bring companies with good-paying jobs to the area.
“But none of that matters if there’s no quality of life, if there’s no good places for them to live that are up to their standards,” he said. “I want to raise the tide so all boats float. I want to make it a better community.”