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Scranton music venue The Place relocating in Marketplace at Steamtown as Geisinger builds wellness center

Scranton music venue The Place relocating in Marketplace at Steamtown as Geisinger builds wellness center
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A music venue that opened inside The Marketplace at Steamtown last fall will already have to move as Geisinger takes over former storefronts to build a musculoskeletal wellness center in downtown Scranton.

Geisinger’s $20.9 million project was announced in October and will fill the two-floor space left by the Bon-Ton when it closed in 2015, along with the adjacent space currently occupied by The Place and possibly Bee’s Backyard, a children’s amusement center.

On May 23, The Place took to Facebook to criticize Geisinger for “now having to move after all the work we have done – one huge problem on top of the other,” in addition to closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Just to be more clear, we haven’t decided to move – the issue is that Geisinger’s move is occupying 83,000 square feet, more than half of The Marketplace, taking over Bee’s Backyard space and The Marketplace has no where to put them except our space and needs to relocate us. On top of that, The Marketplace told us us that Bee’s is not even responding to their phone calls. To all our students’ families and friend [sic], the uncertainty is not coming from us! We will be taking every action necessary. MMMFK hopes that Scranton, PA sees the good we provide our community and keeps supporting our mission. Please share – we can not afford to be silent no more.”

The Place, which also serves as a music school for the nonprofit Making Music Matter for Kids, did not respond to a request for further comment, but last night, the venue updated its Facebook page to say that it is “relocating within The Marketplace in the old Disney Store. The Place is gonna be magical… On your mark, get set, book!”

The 4,000 square foot space that was once home to Timmy’s Town Center, an interactive children’s museum on the second floor of the mall, was converted into a music venue that had a soft opening on Aug. 31. Since then, The Place has only hosted a handful of public concerts on its 30 foot by 20 foot stage, including some featuring students and young bands, as well as Scranton hard rock/metal band Behind the Grey’s EP release show on Oct. 4. Featuring a green room, VIP/meet and greet area, and a ticket desk and sound booth separated by a small wall out front, the venue can hold around 500-600 people, and Matt Kester Productions upgraded the lights and sound system in December.

Founder and music director Lance Miley, along with MMMFK President Robin McArdle, primarily offer music education to kids in grades K-12, particularly those in low-income or disadvantaged situations. The New Jersey natives started teaching locally with a Rock School in Clarks Summit before moving their operation to The Marketplace at Steamtown in 2019.

“We were just walking around one day in the mall. Downstairs there’s a big open space and I’m like, ‘That’d be a cool place for a venue.’ The parking’s really good, tour bus access in the back. The room is large enough to hold enough people, and there’s plenty of space to grow,” Miley told NEPA Scene in an interview last fall.

“There’s something about teaching a kid how to fish and then they go fishing on their own. It keeps them out of trouble. It’s my passion. I was told in order to keep it, you’ve got to give it away.”

At the time, he said he was looking forward to getting national acts in the venue, but those plans seemed to have stalled, and COVID-19 has kept the venue closed since March, along with the rest of former Steamtown Mall. When asked for comment on The Place being asked to move from its renovated space, The Marketplace at Steamtown noted that they “cannot speak to the specifics of any tenant contract as a matter of legality and respect for the terms of the contract.”

“As a whole, our leasing agreements cover a variety of possibilities which are reviewed and agreed upon by all parties. Matters involving multiple tenants are complex by nature and often experience delays under the best of circumstances. The additional COVID-related setbacks and losses are an unfortunate reality that we are all grappling with. We value the contribution tenants like Bee’s Backyard and The Place bring to our building and we will continue to support them as part of our community in any way we can,” The Marketplace said in a statement sent by General Manager Jenn Warnetsky.

Similarly, Geisinger could not offer any further information or comment on whether or not the regional health care provider would help with moving The Place or Bee’s Backyard, which converted a retail store into a 12,000 square foot indoor playground that includes a 57 foot play unit.

“Furthering its commitment to making healthcare easier for patients and health plan members in Scranton, Geisinger plans to open a musculoskeletal wellness center of excellence at the Marketplace at Steamtown. As announced in October, the center will offer expanded services in musculoskeletal health. Services will include all orthopedic sub-specialties, podiatry, wound care, and a new musculoskeletal urgent care,” Geisinger said when reached via email.

“In addition to expanding services, the $20.9 million investment in the city’s downtown section will bring care coordination and outpatient services under one roof. The 83,000 square-foot space, which triples the area of Geisinger’s Olive Street location, is expected to be filled at some time during 2021, although no new updates are available at this time.

“Scranton has embraced Geisinger, and we are excited to support the vibrancy of the city with the most comprehensive complement of musculoskeletal physicians in Northeast Pennsylvania. Regarding other businesses maintaining occupancy at The Marketplace at Steamtown, we cannot speak on behalf of Marketplace ownership.”

Geisinger will join unique tenants like Delta Medix, Luzerne County Community College, Crunch Fitness, and the Electric City Aquarium & Reptile Den that have transformed the building from a shopping mall into a type of mixed-use development. Boscov’s serves as the last remaining anchor store, though small retailers, food vendors, and the Scranton Public Market in the former food court still keep the “marketplace” aspect alive.

Bee’s Backyard did not respond to a request for comment.