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Businesses forced to close, residents displaced in Scranton

Three businesses were forced to close, and several people had to leave their homes after city inspectors say a building in Scranton is unsafe.

SCRANTON, Pa. — The sidewalk outside of a building on North Washington Avenue in Scranton is blocked off, and a sign on the door says it's unsafe for people to be inside.

John McDonald owns the Subway and Electric City Pizza shops on North Washington Avenue. He tells us with a number of big events coming up downtown, such as La Festa Italiana, the Jazz Festival, and the rescheduled St. Patrick's Parade in September, this is a bad time to be forced to close.

"It's a crusher, and I don't even know if it's a couple days. We were really just starting to get busier. I mean, I would say Monday was probably the busiest day we've had in 16, 17 months," McDonald said.

The city says inspectors were called to the building for a sewage leak and ended up finding a number of structural problems, as well as several code violations in the upstairs apartments.

"It was extremely sudden. I want to say, they came in about 1 o'clock, and first, they said I was going to be able to stay open, then 1 o'clock they came in and said, 'Is 4 o'clock OK for you? Can you be done by 4?' and I was like, 'Yeah, I guess so!'"

McDonald says depending on how long it will take to fix the issues, he may have to move.

Coal City Smoke Company next door had to close up shop too. The owner there tells us he's already looking into relocating.

After a long year, McDonald says this is just yet another problem to deal with.

"It's been hard. I mean, you kind of just take it with a grain of salt, and move on, and think, 'OK is this going to get better?' And this really just throws another wrench into it, and it doesn't seem like it's getting better, not yet," said McDonald.

Charles Wallace is a loyal customer at the Subway. He stops in pretty much every day, if not to eat, then to say hello to the owner.

"I hope everything comes back to the even keel for everybody. Mostly him, because he's my friend," Wallace said.

It's not clear when the tenants and the business owners will be able to return to the building. The city tells us the business owners will likely be able to come back sooner than the apartment residents.

The United Neighborhood Centers is helping those residents with finding shelter.

RELATED: Tenants forced out, businesses closed due to structural issues in Scranton