New Castle News

Local News

December 19, 2013

Photo Gallery, Story: Present meets past as coffee opens in former department store

NEW CASTLE — A former downtown department store today has new life as a coffee shop.

The Confluence, a gathering place created by Cray Family and Youth Development Services, opened its doors yesterday in the one-time JCPenney store at 214 E. Washington St.

Managed by Adam Treelisky and the brainchild of Cray’s David Cooper, The Confluence is a coffee shop, deli, lending library, art gallery and entertainment epicenter.

A large stage stands ready to host a variety of local entertainment from music to book readings and comedy. The art gallery, premiering local artists, is supplied by Kimberly Koller-Jones and the Hoyt Center for the Arts. A reading room and book exchange, stocked with free books from Susan Morgan at the New Castle Public Library, is open for all.

The Confluence will feature a variety of sandwich, salad, soup, fruit and drink selections. According to its Facebook page, it will be “a safe, relaxed, and comfortable environment that encourages healthy, positive, and socially acceptable opportunities for patrons of all ages ... We will create and sustain an environment that builds self-esteem, self-efficacy and overall well being of the family unit. We intend to use profits and our position to further better the community by investigating in other community oriented activities.”

The building is owned by Paul Lynch, who is providing a 25-year lease for $1 a year to Cray.

Renovations to the former department store were financed through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the City of New Castle and the Almira Foundation. Joe Seminara, Jessic Tomczak and Janny Montgomery Scott served as business consultants as well as donors.

The remodeled interior was designed at no cost by Dave Esposito and Mark Scheller of Eckles Architecture. Seating was selected by Diane Coury and Lisa Tritt, and an inviting stone hearth was created by Anthony Martone. The reading room shelves were constructed by Jim Moose, and Leslie Michael and Ken Cole supplied the mural near the restrooms.

Melissa Barnes, Jill Kauffman, Dr. Jacque King and Dayna Sear volunteered their time during the planning stages.

Involved in the renovation and construction of The Confluence were Ed Van Dusen, Meilke Construction, Houston Electric, Magee Plumbing, Dan Jacobs Heating, Jim Ferrante Carpeting, New Castle Custom Counter, Jeff Pelini Cabinets and Desco Lighting.

Earlier this year, David Copper, executive director of Cray, said that renovation of the building’s first floor and replacing its roof was expected to cost $300,000.

The city’s contribution of $50,000 to The Confluence was part of a $5 million state grant targeted for downtown revitalization.

(Susan Urbanek Linville of New Visions contributed to this story.)

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