WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A dilapidated local landmark is about to get a new lease on life.
It will become the new home of Luzerne County’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“We’re actually going to take the original structure footprint and that’s what we’re going to restore,” project developer George Albert said.
Albert has construction on his mind. The managing partner of Market Square Properties Development LLC is finally about to get a tenant for the historic downtown Wilkes-Barre train station. He purchased it from Luzerne County in 2016.
“We were thrilled by the outcome of the council’s decision. We’re tremendously excited to start the project,” Albert said.
Luzerne County Council voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to approve a five-year lease agreement that will move the county’s Convention & Visitors Bureau from Public Square to the former Central Railroad of New Jersey Station at Market Street and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard.
“So we would have, it’s 2,100 square feet the way they would lay out the first floor,” Luzerne County Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director Ted Wampole said.
The head of the bureau says the new site will provide his staff more space and be more welcoming for visitors.
“They can stop by and talk to our staff about places to go. They can pick up information. It’s, you know, plenty of parking, you know high visibility, it checks all of the boxes,” Wampole said.
Local historian and director/curator of the Wilkes-Barre Preservation Society, Tony Brooks, says the site last saw train traffic in 1963. In the years that followed, it was home to restaurants, nightclubs and an entertainment and hotel complex before going dormant the past two decades.
“I couldn’t be more ecstatic to see this 1868 Victorian train station restored,” Brooks said.
The site has long been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With protective fencing just installed and construction on the verge of starting, soon the old train station will add the next chapter to its storied history.
“We’re really glad, very fortunate that we have this station that’s been preserved by so many people before it and now it’s into its next hands of ownership,” Brooks said.
The project developer says he’s considering adding a café’ or deli to the first floor space.
The construction completion deadline is set for December 15th, which is the scheduled move-in day for the Luzerne County Convention and Visitors Bureau.