Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services has begun construction on a 41,344 square foot speculative office building in the East Mountain Corporate Center, Plains Township, Luzerne County. The one-story building will be located on approximately five acres at 675 Baltimore Drive.
The new facility is expected to be ready for tenants by year’s end.
At a press conference held at Mericle’s headquarters building in the park, Chief Operating Officer Lew Sebia said the new building will be the first of several to be developed on speculation. “As soon as we have success with the first building and it becomes 50% leased, we will begin work on the second building,” he said. “We will repeat the process until we have fully developed all of the land we now own in East Mountain.” A master plan displayed at the press conference showed a complex of nine new buildings.
The first building will have a brick exterior and tinted glass windows and will be served by 240 parking spaces. The facility can be subdivided into 10,000 square foot sections with each space having its own private entrance.
Mericle developed and owns three other office buildings in the park and all are fully leased. More than 1,000 people work in the three buildings.
The site for the new multi-building office campus is within an area of the park that was recently given property tax abatement status via the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Program, which is more commonly known as LERTA. The Luzerne County Board of Commissioners, Plains Township Board of Commissioners and the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board all agreed to allow property taxes on improvements to be abated for 10-years as an inducement to bring tenants and jobs to the park.
“We are grateful for the leadership, vision and courage of the Luzerne County Commissioners, the Plains Township Commissioners and the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board, said Mericle Chief Operating Officer Lew Sebia. “They recognized the value of both Mericle’s multi-million dollar speculative investment in East Mountain and the important role tax incentives play in the creation of new jobs.”
“We own and manage close to 11 million square feet of industrial and office space and have more than 120 tenants throughout Northeast Pennsylvania,” added Sebia. “In many cases, tax abatements made us more attractive than competing states and helped us win important projects.”
Sebia also acknowledged the key role state incentives play when tenants are being recruited. “Pennsylvania’s incentive programs are as comprehensive and as aggressive as any in the country,” he said. “Several of the tenants in our East Mountain buildings have utilized state incentives.” Governor Rendell was represented at the event by Governor’s Action Team Regional Director Steve Yokimishyn.
Sebia noted that close to 10,000 people work in the more than 80 buildings developed by Mericle in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties since the company’s founding in 1986.
East Mountain Corporate Center is located along Route 115 at Exit 170A of Interstate 81. The park has redundant electrical power, fiber optics and natural gas service.
Sebia said the park’s location within 20 miles of nine colleges makes it attractive to companies focused on attracting a skilled workforce. “We believe our new building will draw interest from insurance, financial services, information technology and medical-related companies,” he said.
Park tenants include the Social Security Administration, PPL Electric Utilities, Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, Merrill Lynch, Citadel Communications and Borton Lawson Engineering.
Also at the press conference, C3i, a tenant on the ground floor in Mericle’s headquarters building, announced that it would be expanding its local workforce.
Founded by Robert K. Mericle, Mericle Construction Inc. self-performs virtually all aspects of development and construction, using its own in-house personnel, Mericle Construction is better able to control costs and fast track delivery schedules to meet its clients’ needs. It fashions itself as a throwback to the “master builder” of old when experienced craftsmen self-performed all aspects of the construction process.