More than 15 years after serving its original purpose, new life has been breathed into one of downtown New Castle's largest structures.
The blue-bricked former Penn Power building, located at 3 E. Washington St., was purchased by ServaxNet LLC of El Paso, Texas with the plans to renovate the site and open a data center. The center "will increase the scale and speed of their managed services through a broader network of geographic locations," the company announced in a news release Friday. The New Castle location will compliment existing ServaxNet data centers in Dallas and Las Vegas, with an expected completion date in 2020.
Renovations for the three-floor structure began this week with workers filling rubbish receptacles with broken ceiling tiles, carpeting and blinds. ServaxNet plans to occupy the top two floors.
“New Castle was our top choice as a strategic location," ServaxNet LLC CEO Dennis Liang said. "Not only has the New Castle City Council given enthusiastic support for the project, but we also look forward to making a positive impact on the community.”
ServaxNet, LLC provides informational technology support for companies, while also giving server hosting abilities, cloud-hosting services and consultation.
The decision to invest in downtown New Castle by Liang and company Chief Operating Officer Daniel Romanowski was met with optimism by the New Castle City council
"Daniel Romanowski and Dennis Liang have expressed their commitment to renovating an existing building and bringing a technology-based sector business to our downtown area," Councilman Tom Smith said. "I am confident that this type of 21st century technological presence in New Castle could potentially lead to additional growth and future expansion."
The expansive building, listed 42,000 square feet and sitting on 0.48 acres, was purchased Oct. 11 for $85,000 by N C P Group LLC of El Paso, Texas. Paul Lynch Investments Inc. purchased the building at a 2006 auction for the total land and building assessment of $202,500. The building and land was then transferred to the Paul Lynch Foundation on Dec. 29, 2017, for $10,000.
The building last housed operations for Penn Power 16 years ago. The energy company, the building's sole tenant at that time, vacated the building on Sept. 30, 2003, when it moved its headquarters to Akron, Ohio.
The building has been largely empty since the utility company moved out.
In 2015, the Human Services Center proposed the construction of 23 apartments in the building for a veterans housing project. The plan fell through when Lynch, who planned to donate the property to the agency, sent a letter to city council withdrawing its request for a conditional use zoning variance to allow the project to proceed after it was met with opposition from residents and downtown business owners.
Currently, the city's downtown holiday decorations are stored on the first floor by the public works department.