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The addition of a medical practice is part of the cure for reviving a shopping mall in Scranton, Pa.

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Retail Centers

The addition of a medical practice is part of the cure for reviving a shopping mall in Scranton, Pa.

Delta Medix is one of several tenants that are changing the image of the Marketplace at Steamtown.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | January 9, 2018

An aerial rendering of the main waiting area in Delta Medix's new office for its urology, general surgery, ENT, imaging, audiology, allergy, and pulmonary practices. Image: Highland Associates

Sometime this spring, Delta Medix, a Scranton, Pa.-based consortium of 20 physicians, is scheduled to consolidate its seven practices, spread over five local offices, into a 44,000-sf space within the Marketplace at Steamtown, a ‘90s-era shopping mall in Scranton that is in the process of reinventing itself as a lifestyle center.

The space into which Delta Medix will relocate is the first floor of a former 100,000-sf Bon Ton department store that had been closed since its lease expired in January 2014.

Like many other retail outlets struggling with ecommerce competition, this shopping center, which used to be called The Mall at Steamtown, has had a shaky recent history. It was sold in a sheriff’s sale for $1.6 million in 2014, and one year later sold again for $5.5 million to John Basalyga, a developer in Lacawanna County, who also owns Eastern Roofing and a popular restaurant.

There are currently 49 tenants in the mall, including the usual assortment of cellular phone, fast-food, greeting card, and clothing retailers. One of mall’s anchor tenants, the department store Boscov’s, also operates a furniture outlet there.

A year after acquiring the mall, Basalyga started bringing in a different kind of tenant, such as a 16,000-sf satellite campus of Luzerne Community College, which leases part of the second level of the Bon Ton. A 30,000-sf Iron Horse Movie Bistro opened in the mall in April 2016, and a 30,000-sf Crunch Fitness opened in May 2016.

Last month, Marketplace at Steamtown officially opened its 25,000-sf Scranton Public Market, a weekend flea market that replaces the food court on the mall’s second floor with a wood-paneled thoroughfare whose chandelier-lit entryway leads to kiosks selling everything from home décor, gift items, and cosmetics to one vendor selling nothing but ketchup. Live music entertains browsers while they shop. And a pizzeria and wine bar under installation will bookend the Public Market’s entryway.

Ironically, many of the vendors exhibiting at the Public Market sell online, and are using the Public Market to meet new customers.

The Marketplace at Steamtown will soon have a new food court and 18,000-sf Electric City Aquarium and Reptile Den.

“I think what you’re going to see, over the next four or five years, is a different ‘turn,’ and a different type of tenant moving into the mall,” predicts George Sweda, a spokesman for Delta Medix. He thinks the practice could draw related businesses to the mall, such as pharmacies, chiropractors, physical therapists, or medical equipment suppliers.

The only part of Delta Medix’s practice that won’t be moved into the mall is its Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care. Sweda explains that the structural requirements for radiation equipment made it impractical to relocate that center into a shopping center. However, the new office will have a CT scanner.

Delta Medix employs 110 people, so the mall might also lure more restaurants as tenants, or companies that support Delta’s medical services, suggested Tracy Wescott, LEED BD+C, Senior Associate for Highland Associates, the renovation’s architect, interior designer, structural and MEP engineer. Grimm Construction is the GC.

When BD+C spoke with Wescott last week, she estimated that the renovation for Delta Medix was about 80% completed. The space’s 20-ft-high ceilings made installing acoustics, support walls, and temperature controls a bit of a challenge, she noted.

Once Delta Medix opens, patients will check in via touchscreen devices that ask questions that direct patients to the right discipline within the practice. Wescott said this system should speed up the admissions process, especially for frequent patients, like those being treated for allergies, “who come in every week and want to be in and out in 15 minutes,” she said.

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