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Schuylkill has appraisal done for Giant property

The appraisal is finished for the former Giant property in Pottsville the county has shown interest in purchasing.

County administrator Gary Bender said Wednesday the appraisal was completed “about a week ago.” He didn’t know the exact cost of the appraisal but believed it was about $1,500.

He would not release the amount of the appraisal because it is “privileged information,” saying there could be others also interested in the property.

Bender didn’t want to speculate if the property would be discussed at the Aug. 5 commissioners meeting. Commissioners’ Chairman Barron “Boots” Hetherington also didn’t know if the former store will be mentioned.

The closure of the Giant at 500 Progress Ave. by the company earlier this month and its potential use by the county for a prerelease center for nonviolent offenders has caused uproar in the community. The center, also known as intermediate punishment center, would be for those with drug and alcohol or mental health concerns who could obtain treatment at the center.

No decision has been made yet, Bender said.

Giant does not own the property but has been leasing it.

Surrey Equities LLC and Winstanley Enterprises LLC own the property.

Edward Silvera, president of Surrey Equities, said he was surprised the store was closing.

“We found out they were closing just a few weeks ago,” Silvera said Monday.

He said Giant “rents that store for another five years.” Ashley Flower, manager of public relations for Giant, did not return a call for comment.

Silvera said discussions are ongoing with what that means for the property.

“There’s no deal with anybody,” he said regarding the next use of the site.

Silvera would not confirm if he spoke with county officials.

Meanwhile, Jerry Enders, chairman of the Pottsville Commission on Tourism, owner of Jerry’s Classic Cars &Collectibles Museum and a member of Pottsville Area Development Corporation board wrote a letter to the commissioners Tuesday saying he feels the proposed purchase would be a “huge setback to the progress that has been made throughout the city to grow tourism.”

He said to “take away a valuable property for county use would be a disaster to our growth and not to mention the loss in tax revenue to the city and school district.”

Enders said a more suitable site, such as the for Schuylkill Transportation location in the Saint Clair Industrial Park, could used. The county owns the former building.

“I strongly oppose removing this property from the private sector and adding it to the county’s property inventory for any purpose.”

County Commissioner Gary Hess said previously he will not vote to put the prerelease center at the former Giant. Hess said he believes the location is better suited to revitalization efforts taking place in the city.

“I’m 100 percent in favor of putting it at the STS location,” Hess said.