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Developer interested in former School for the Deaf

Owner Marywood University signs option agreement with Los Angeles company.

STAFF WRITER A developer could soon convert the former Scranton State School for the Deaf property into apartments, a restaurant and an events venue.

Marywood University, which purchased the 10-acre property in the city’s Green Ridge section in 2011, signed an “option and purchase” agreement with a Los Angeles company.

Urban Smart Growth revitalizes old and historic structures across the country and has worked on 54 properties in six states, according to its website. Efforts to reach a representative from the company were unsuccessful Thursday.

The company will have 13 months to do its “due diligence” and decide if it wants to purchase the property, Marywood University’s newspaper, the Wood Word, reported Wednesday. University President Sister Mary Persico, I.H.M., Ed.D., revealed details of the agreement during a campus meeting this week, which members of the student newspaper attended. Citing an agreement with the company, Persico told The Times-Tribune on Thursday that she could not publicly disclose the company’s plans.

“We’re very excited about it,” she said. “It’s going to bring some wonderful growth and opportunities to Scranton.”

Marywood acquired the property from the state in 2011 for $500,000, after the state gave control of the deaf school to the private Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. The university put the property and its nine buildings on the market three years ago.

In the last three years, 90 individuals and organizations toured the property, the Wood Word reported.

Urban Smart Growth plans to convert six buildings into apartments, which will be open to anyone and range from studios to luxury. Plans also include a quad that can serve as a sitting area and venue for events.

The company also plans a bed-and-breakfast, restaurant and open-air spaces for events like art shows, and a neighborhood-based community center for the Green Ridge area with a swimming pool, gym and stage for performances or events, the Wood Word reported.

Urban Smart Growth plans to meet with community leaders and neighbors next month.

Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright said he is eager to learn more about the plans.

“It sounds like a very good idea,” he said. “We’re happy to have someone interested in it . … I want to make sure neighbors feel like it’s something that fits in the neighborhood.”

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