MIDDLE SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP -- A former hotel in the Poconos was recently sold to a Buddhist group. According to officials in Monroe County, the new owners plan to turn it into a retreat.
The former Fernwood Hotel and Conference Center in Bushkill has been vacant for quite some time. But now, according to officials in Middle Smithfield Township, it has new owners.
A Buddhist group bought the place for more than $2.5 million from the Bushkill group.
"They are calling it a world peace center and they expect to offer some classes in yoga, artistry classes, meditation and things like that," said township official Judith Acosta.
The group, known as the Jinyin Temple of Sino Esoteric Buddhism, plans to turn the former hotel into a retreat center.
Newswatch 16 reached out to the group based in Queens, New York.
A spokesperson says administrators are currently in Japan but will be back at the beginning of next year.
Officials in Middle Smithfield Township say renovations to the place have already started.
"Right now, the only permits that have been issued is to renovate one of the homes that they are going to use for a groundskeeper. Then they plan over the winter just to do some minor repairs so that the buildings don't come into further disrepair," said Acosta.
Some people we spoke to have positive reactions to the new owners and what they plan to do. In fact, they hope it brings more people to this part of Route 209.
At Miggy's Deli, the new addition to the community is being welcomed.
"Well, for this area, it could be interesting. I hope it brings a lot of traffic from the city people especially. Philly, NYC, all the city people they might be motivated to come here," Nirajan Neupane said.
"Pretty cool. it will be nice to see more people around," Barry Rodriguez said.