WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Anyone who thought a local tornado-devastated strip mall couldn’t rebound from the damage is mistaken. New signs of rebirth are creeping up at the business district near Wilkes-Barre. Eyewitness News reporter Mark Hiller stopped there Wednesday to get us up to date on the latest redevelopment project.
It’s the sweet sound of progress along Mundy Street. A crew from Pioneer Construction Company Incorporated is working on sewer and water lines for some brand new construction. A pair of buildings will spring up where two badly damaged buildings were torn down. One of those new buildings will house a new restaurant. “The Mission BBQ currently is being built right here,” said Wilkes-Barre Township Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer Tom Zedolik. He has witnessed progress these past 13 months following a devastating blow. “Never seen anything like that.”
A June 2018 tornado damaged or destroyed nearly two dozen businesses at Wilkes-Barre Township Commons and Arena Hub. With millions of dollars in damage, the future of this business district was in doubt. Shopper Jack Lehman of Sugarloaf Township said, “We saw the after effect and everything and it was like a bomb went off.”
But from the devastation came determination to repair and rebuild. A foundation was poured last month for the new Mission BBQ restaurant signaling progress at a popular shopping and dining destination. Even though utility work and paving will go on over roughly the next month and a half, that won’t slow down construction. Steel framing is expected to get underway on Mission BBQ in the next week.
It’s the latest chapters being added to this community’s comeback story. Shopper Judy Lehman of Sugarloaf Township said, “I think it’s very important to the economy, to the people, you know and to the growth.” Fellow shopper Theresa Smicherko of Avoca added, “You’ll have more jobs and people will get to work.”
And just how important is all of that? Mr. Zedolik said, “Very important to have that come back because without it, you know, that’s a loss for the township and that’s a big part of the budget.”
The new Mission BBQ is expected to be built and open for business sometime this fall.