After owning the Gateway Shopping Center in Edwardsville for more than 15 years, Joe Amato has sold it to Forty Fort dentist Dr. Charles Musto and his daughter Vanessa for
Amato, 77, a retired drag racing champion who owns and operates multiple commercial properties through Joe Amato Properties, said the shopping center is 90% occupied.
He said he sold it because he is “getting older” and wanted to find somebody who wanted to work on it.
“It’s in good shape and has good tenants,” Amato said. “It’s time to take a little off the table. That’s the plan.”
Amato said he moved his office to the East End Centre in Wilkes-Barre Twp., which he purchased in 2015 for
$3 million, and plans to concentrate his energy there.
He also owns City Centre, a mixed-use development on South Main, East Northampton and South Washington streets in downtown Wilkes-Barre which houses R/C Wilkes-Barre Movies 14 as well as a shopping center in Bloomsburg.
Amato said he has been spending his summers at his home in Moosic and the winter in Florida, where he recently built an apartment building and he plans to start renting apartments there.
Musto owns a portfolio of commercial and residential properties mainly in Luzerne County.
Amato said Musto has already begun to make some “nice changes” to the Gateway Shopping Center.
“It’s good for the area to get some young blood in there,” Amato said.
Vanessa Musto, 23, is part of Musto & Daughter Real Estate with her father and she said the Gateway Shopping Center is their biggest acquisition.
“We pretty much doubled the number of tenants we have with the Gateway Shopping Center acquisition,” she said. “It’s really exciting. This is definitely our biggest endeavor.”
Musto, who recently graduated from Wilkes University with a degree in business administration and is pursuing her masters degree, said six to eight vacant spaces remain in the Gateway Shopping Center.
Yet, there are many prospects for new entrepreneurs moving in which she said is “exciting” She said she and her father expect the shopping center soon will be 95% to 100% occupied.
Local artist Eric Bussart completed a mural at the shopping center featuring 1950s entertainers John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.
Musto said another mural is in the works of a 1950s house, a 1957 Thunderbird and her dog and that should be finished within the next week.
Work has begun to paint the façade on the side of the shopping center facing Wyoming Avenue. Painting on the other side on Northampton Street will begin in the spring, she said. They also are investing in new lighting and security cameras to increase safety, she said.
“We repainted all the lines in the parking lot,” she said. “We’re definitely putting in the work. We care about our tenants.”