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Brooklyn, N.Y., Businessman Buys Citizens Bank Building
By Tim Gulla, Staff Writer
(Wilkes-Barre) Citizens' Voice, December 24, 2005

Wilkes-Barre City's tallest landmark is under new ownership for the second time since 2003.

The 14-story Citizens Bank Building, as it's known because of the prominent sign on its roof, was bought by a new holding company established by Brooklyn, N.Y., businessman Zalmer Reiss, the owner of electronics, computer and camera distribution company Z. Reiss & Associates.

Wilkes-Barre Attorney David Schwager, who represented Reiss' holding company, WB Holdings L.P., in the transaction, said Reiss is banking on good things locally.

"My client feels that in light of the positive movement toward the overall revitalization of downtown Wilkes-Barre, now was a good time to invest in our area," Schwager said.

"He believes he can turn this landmark building back into the first-class rental space it was dating back to its construction in the early 20th century."

Conshohocken-based Preferred Real Estate Investments, a company that develops and renovates office buildings, had owned the building since 2003. It was one of several Citizens Bank buildings the company bought in an apparent package deal and PREI placed it back on the real estate market shortly after the purchase.

Deeds on file at the office of Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds Mary K. Dysleski show WB Holdings purchased the building for the exact amount as PREI - $2.5 million.

The building at 8-18 West Market St. was built in 1911 and designed by pioneering Chicago architect, Daniel Burnham.

Burnham designed the Flat Iron building in New York City, the wedge-shaped skyscraper at 23rd Street, Broadway and Fifth Avenue, as well as the 14-story Reliance Building in Chicago.

The Wilkes-Barre building is very similar to the Reliance Building.

Schwager said Reiss "was obviously looking for opportunities" and someone brought the progress in Wilkes-Barre to Reiss' attention.

"No one invests money thinking the area is not going to succeed. He's hoping everything he seeing in the development of the downtown continues, and that what he does will be good for the city and what the city is doing will be good for his investment."

Reiss could not be reached for comment at his Brooklyn office Friday afternoon.

Schwager could not say what immediate plans Reiss has for the building in terms of upgrades, repair or remodeling.

"He has nothing concrete, but obviously it's a building that's in need of some attention, and he certainly intends to give it the attention that it deserves over a period of time."

The Citizens Bank Building began life as the Miners National Bank Building. It later became the United Penn Bank Building, the Mellon Bank Building, and ultimately the Citizens Bank Building.

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