WILKES-BARRE — Members of the Jewish Community Center in Wilkes-Barre have plans to breathe life back into a vacant shopping center in Luzerne County.
The roof has some issues. Space is tight at the gym and pool. But the Jewish Community Center in Wilkes-Barre is where Sheldon Spear has been coming for more than 40 years.
“It`s almost like a second home to me. I like being downtown. If I want to go to the Osterhout or Boscov’s, it`s very convenient,” said Sheldon Spear, of Shavertown.
But in time, this building will no longer be Sheldon’s second home.
The Jewish Community Alliance board voted to relocate and renovate here to the vacant Kingston Plaza on Third Avenue in Kingston.
“It`s all on one floor so it`ll be easier for the seniors. We have more space to try to creat a community campus and we wanted to create a space that is more modern,” said JCA Board President Paul Lantz.
JCA President Paul Lantz says the cost to fix up the current building and the Kingston Plaza are about the same — $4 to 7 million, but the plaza offers more acreage.
The JCA board is in the early design phase of this project right now, but they do know they`d like to tear down this whole section of the building and put the new pool and gymnasium over here.
It’s close to other fitness centers like Vive and the Kingston rec center. But Vive owner Diane McAliney thinks this is a move that will benefit the area.
“It`s always vacant back there and there`s people tearing through the lot so it`ll be nice to have it settled and developed and to really add beauty to the community,” said Vive Fitness owner Diane McAliney.
But for Sheldon and other members like him, it could take some getting used to.
“I`ll get used to it. Let`s put it that way. I won`t stop coming. By no means will i stop coming. It will be sad when we leave here,” said Spear.
The JCA board wants to start renovations at the plaza by the end of the year and have it up and running by the end of 2014.