A rejuvenation is taking place at the Tamaqua Shopping Center and the new owner says even more is coming.
In fact, the former Jamesway Plaza will soon undergo a visible overhaul at its location in the east end of Tamaqua.
Partners Doug Topkis and Bruce E. Toll recently purchased the shopping center complex with an eye on improving and expanding it.
"We're excited. It's a very busy place. It's really picked up" said Topkis.
The sale of the 11.2-acre parcel located at 1201-1225 East Broad Street, the north side of US209, was recorded at the Schuylkill County Courthouse earlier this month.
The plaza sold for $1.29 million with the seller listed as Dolores Seiler of Tamaqua Limited Partnership of Pa., and Tamaqua Associates.
Tamaqua Associates had acquired the property in 1972 from Herbert Donenfield and others. Earlier that same year it had been deeded under the name of Tamaqua Shopping Center, Inc.
Today, the new owner is listed as Tamaqua Plaza LP, Horsham.
Partners Topkis and Toll have set up an office in the facility and are taking a hands-on approach to rejuvenating the site.
"We're here as tenants, and we have interest from a lot of others. We'll make it into a quality place," Topkis told the TIMES NEWS on Tuesday.
The shopping center hosts a wide variety of businesses and offices that draw patrons from communities in the Panther Valley and Tamaqua areas and beyond.
The center's slate of existing tenants includes: Tamaqua YMCA, Grande Pizza, Tamaqua Child Care, Dollar General, Fresenius Medical Care of Tamaqua, BRL Grocery Outlet, One Main Financial and the new owners' office which occupies space once occupied by Radio Shack. The new owners' office also hosts an office of Lehigh Anthracite.
The new owners expect and hope that all of the existing tenants will remain.
Still called Jamesway Plaza by locals, it has been 16 years since Jamesway closed its doors. The discount department store anchored the west end of the plaza, a busy hub of commerce during the later 1970s and 80s. The plaza's east end was anchored by the A & P Supermarket, which had moved to the site from its previous location on the ground floor of the Masonic Building, West Broad and Nescopec streets.
After Jamesway closed, the anchor space at Jamesway Plaza hosted a variety of businesses and trial ventures, including an informal marketplace set up as a co-op or flea market. That effort saw some of the former Jamesway retail space divided and then partitioned into rentable sales booths, but the venture was short-lived.
A big boost to the facility took place on Dec. 18, 2009, with the opening of the 15,000-square-foot Tamaqua YMCA, a fully-equipped recreational and fitness center located within a portion of the former Jamesway retail space. Within a matter of a few weeks, the "Y" drew over 1,000 members.
New ownership and local control of the Tamaqua Shopping Center is seen as a boost to the local economy and a promising sign of revitalization.
Linda J. Yulanavage, executive director of the Tamaqua Area Chamber of Commerce, said she is looking forward to progress at the site, reportedly to include a new facade, upgrades to the facility and parking lot, along with filling a few existing vacancies.
"They're planning on doing a whole lot of work on that building, and we're comfortable having local ownership of that property," said Yulanavage. "It's better for the community as a whole."
Topkis said there is still plenty of space available for those looking for a busy, convenient location.
"We have 50,000 square feet available for retail or office," he said.
With the recording of deeds, the Tamaqua Area School District and Tamaqua Borough each received $6,450 in transfer taxes. The commonwealth received $12,900 in similar transaction fees.