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Hotel Boom on Horizon Near Mohegan Sun Arena and Casino

By Denise Allabaugh, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Feb. 24, 2010--WILKES-BARRE -- Areas around Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Twp. and the casino in Plains Twp. are on the verge of a hotel boom.

Hampton Inn and Suites, a five-story hotel with 113 rooms, including 38 suites, is the latest hotel to open. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Thursday at 5:30 p.m. for the hotel at 876 Schechter Drive in Wilkes-Barre Twp.

The Hampton adds to at least a dozen hotels already in business in the area.

"With the economy picking up a little bit, you see more people coming from the casino, which we're only a couple minutes away from," said Hampton General Manager Nick DeMarco. "You see more people taking two-hour vacations now than five-hour vacations."

In nearby Plains Twp., Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is moving forward with plans to build a nine-story hotel with more than 300 rooms.

President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Soper said he needs to negotiate the deal with a third-party developer who will finance and build the hotel, and he's not sure when construction will begin. He believes the area offers a great market, especially with the booming business at the casino and plans to add table games.

Two other hotels also are planned near the arena.

A New Jersey-based developer plans to build a five-story hotel on Mundy Street between Olive Garden and Orloski's Car Wash. The recession has put the plan on hold, but it will move forward when the economy improves, said Alex Belavitz, an architect with Facility Design & Development, which has offices in Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and New York City and who is working with the developer.

The Wilkes-Barre Twp. Zoning Hearing Board approved the land-use plan for the project last year, but no other plans have been brought forward since, said Zoning Officer Tom Zedolik Since the land-use plan was approved, the project can move forward expeditiously when the market comes back, Mr. Belavitz said.

Bipin Patel of Virginia-based Hotel Squared plans to construct a five-story, 70-room hotel near the Hampton Inn. The Wilkes-Barre Twp. Zoning Hearing Board approved his plan last year to construct the hotel on a 1.26-acre site in front of the Tobyhanna Army Depot Federal Credit Union on Schechter Drive.

Construction has not yet begun and no plans have been presented recently, Mr. Zedolik said.

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