WILKES-BARRE -- The Irem Temple Mosque is one of the most recognizable buildings in Wilkes-Barre, even as the old performing arts building has been vacant for years. But now, it’s one of the main parts of the city that local leaders want to revitalize.
“It is just a focal point of the downtown -- the architectural history of it,” said Joseph Boylan Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, adding the chamber is planning the next stages for the building as part of a revitalization plan for the city's downtown.
The chamber owns the building, and as it moves forward, it will ask for suggestions from the public about what they want it to become.
“We really see the future of that building really driven from the community,” Boylan said.
Some folks have a lot of ties to this building, and they say they know exactly what they'd like to see happen to it.
“It'd be nice if they could make it some kind of performing arts center, maybe like the Kirby Center,” said Pat Iorio of Mountain Top.
“I would love to see it restored, but you know, at a cost, I don't know. You wouldn't want to see millions and millions of dollars. But it was a building in its time,” said Karen Mallon of Kingston.
“It should be restored, but like I said, it's a lot of money to put out for it,” added Denise Blaker of Avoca.
But Boylan said with the Kirby Center so close to the temple, “it'd be difficult to have almost the same size arena competing."
The Chamber has not set a time, but does plan to meet with the public to talk about suggestions for the building's future.