A religious organization received zoning approval Monday night to convert a south Allentown bingo hall into a Hindu temple.
The International Swaminarayan Satsang Organisation will convert the former Rainbow Room Bingo Hall, across Lehigh Street from Queen City Airport, into a temple that will serve 30-50 local families, a representative for the organization said.
The Allentown Zoning Hearing Board approved an application from ISSO to reduce the needed number of parking spaces from 88 to 65. The bingo hall operated with just 65 spaces and likely served more people at a time than the temple will, said Mike Patel, a secretary with ISSO.
ISSO also owns an adjacent grassy lot that could be converted into additional parking if the temple’s congregation ever grows larger than expected, representatives said.
Construction is expected to take about four to six months and will take place mainly inside the building to create living quarters for a priest, as well as meeting and worship space. On the exterior, new signage will be installed, Patel said.
Patel said he is excited about the new temple location because he and other Lehigh Valley families now drive about an hour and a half each way to a temple near Cherry Hill, N.J., for weekly prayer services.