The Sudan Shriners will vote Nov. 21, 2020, on a motion to raze its landmark Temple Devan at 403 E. Front St., which has gone unused since it was devastated by Hurricane Florence in September 2018.
The 40,000-square-foot building, a New Bern landmark on the Neuse River waterfront since 1951, would cost $2 million to $3 million to repair and renovate, said Potentate Allen Brown, a Dunn resident who leads the 3,800-member group. A motion was made and seconded at the group’s September meeting and will be voted on by the full membership in November.
The existing building, known for its distinctive Middle Eastern architecture, is valued at $1.75 million, according to Craven County records. It includes an auditorium, clubhouse, and general office, all built in 1951, along with 1.28 acres.
Another quarter-acre parcel, located at the corner of Broad and East Front streets, is valued at $205,000. It is used as a parking lot.
A larger parcel, located between East Front Street and the Neuse River, is 1.33 acres valued at $1.47 million. It is a grassy field with no structures, although there is a sidewalk and pedestrian railing along the waterfront that is a popular fishing spot. The parcel also includes a historic marker about the founder of New Bern.
The lodge also owns 0.63 of an acre just west of the temple that is used for parking by neighboring Craven County government buildings. That parcel is valued at $153,000.
There are proposals to build a new, smaller shrine on the existing property at Broad and East Front streets, or across East Front Street on riverfront property the Sudan Shriners own.
The shrine just marked the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Florence, which Brown said resulted in “total devastation” of the temple.
He said it has been a long process deciding what to do with the building, which is far larger than is currently needed.
The lodge was built when it had 13,000 members, Brown said. It now has 3,800 members.
Also, to resurrect the old building would require extensive renovation to its electrical and plumbing systems, a new elevator, as well as other upgrades that could reach $3 million in cost, he said.
“We just need to move forward,” Brown said.
There is no timeline or specific plan, and won’t be until the full board makes its decision in November, Brown said.
If the decision is made to raze and replace the building, it will begin another long process involving proposals, plans, city permits and funding, he said.