Clockwise from left: 2018 conceptual rendering by Hemmler + Camayd Architects and Barry Isett & Associates; 1940's postcard of the former Leader Store; bird's eye view of the parcel undergoing Phase Two development. Below: progress photos of Phase Two construction, Summer 2020.
The historic Leader Department Store, a symbol of the downtown’s past commercial vitality, sat vacant for nearly two decades. It was acquired by the City of Hazleton in 2011 and soon after demolished to make way for a parking garage.
In 2015 the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress initiated a Strategic Plan for revitalization and developed alternative plans for a new city park. Envisioned to accommodate community events and complement the newly planned City Arts Center adjacent to the property, the City of Hazleton undertook Phase One remediation in 2016 to clear the lot and maintain it as green space.
Phase Two development began in the summer of 2020, which will result in a new civic plaza along Broad Street and special event lawn.
To date this $850,000 public-private renovation project has been funded with several grants, including Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Local Share and Greenways Trails and Recreation grants, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant, Pennsylvania Office of the Budget Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant, a Community Development Block Grant, and private funds from Greater Hazleton CAN DO and the CAN DO Community Foundation, after whom the Park is to be named.
Phase Three completion of the park will begin once additional funding becomes available.