Center City Allentown Construction To Bring 900 Jobs

English: City of Allentown

English: City of Allentown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The concrete foundation of Allentown‘s $272 million arena complex has begun to rise at Seventh and Hamilton streets, along with the number of yellow-vested construction workers.

It is a welcome sight to an army of local tradesmen whose livelihoods took a beating in the Great Recession.

For ironworker Carl Graves, 33, of Easton, the arena project didn’t just put him back to work in a tough construction market, it gave him his family back.

With construction in the Lehigh Valley at a near halt the past four years, Graves has had to accept jobs as far as 100 miles away. During his six months working on a job at New York University Medical Center last year, the four-hour round-trip commute left him little time to spend with his wife and sons, ages 5 and 1.

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Allentown Waterfront Development Plans Unveiled For $250M In Construction

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Developers on Tuesday unveiled a $250 million plan to convert Allentown’s long-deteriorating riverfront into a complex of office and residential buildings, a project funded by the one-of-a-kind tax zone that’s powering the downtown hockey arena.

The gritty industrial mish-mash along the west bank of the Lehigh River from Allen Street past the Tilghman Street Bridge would be replaced by The Waterfront, a strip of 12 glass-and-steel office buildings, walking trails and apartments.

Waterfront Redevelopment Partners presented the quarter-billion-dollar plan to the city’s Planning Commission, proposing 610,000 square feet of offices, 130,000 square feet of retail and 172 apartments on a 26-acre property that was home to Lehigh Structural Steel, once an anchor of city industry.

The Waterfront would be linked to Route 22 by the soon-to-be built American Parkway bridge, and expands what city officials hoped would be the companion piece of the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, the financing tool behind downtown revitalization around Seventh and Hamilton streets, site of the arena now under construction.

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First New Businesses Arrive In Arena Zone

English: City of Allentown from east side

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Allentown‘s hockey arena won’t open until at least 2013, but the first of the office employees it is expected to attract have already started to arrive.

More than 70 workers from Lehigh Gas Corp. and West Park Insurance are moving onto Hamilton Street this week, the first trickle of what is projected to be hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of new workers attracted to what city officials hope will become the Lehigh Valley‘s new financial district.

The new companies moved into the Wells Fargo bank building at 702 Hamilton St., the new headquarters for City Center Investment Corp., which was created to develop properties around the proposed hockey arena. A third company, a yet-to-be-named engineering firm, is scheduled to move in early next year.

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Developer Unveils $50 Million Office Complex In Center City Allentown

A developer on Wednesday unveiled detailed plans for a $50 million office complex that would include a 570-space underground parking garage and could attract more than 700 mostly white-collar office workers to downtown Allentown.

One City Center, to be built by J.B. Reilly on a Seventh Street parking lot south of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, is billed as the first phase of a plan that will bring thousands of new workers and hundreds of new upscale homes and apartments into Allentown’s struggling downtown.

City officials hope it will be followed by a parade of development piggy-backing on a 130-acre Neighborhood Improvement Zone created to finance the downtown hockey arena.

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Allentown’s $100 Million Hockey Arena Complex

Scan of 1974 slide of Hamilton Mall, Allentown...

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When Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski looks down Hamilton Street, he envisions thousands of hockey fans pouring out of a $100 million arena and into a downtown entertainment district of sports bars, restaurants and retail shops.

While it may take imagination to visualize such a scene in Allentown’s struggling downtown now, Pawlowski on Tuesday brought some clarity to how the city plans to get there when he released the first designs for the arena, which alone is projected to draw 500,000 people downtown each year.

The first architectural renderings oshow a glass and steel, two-story entrance at Hamilton and Seventh streets, transitioning into a row of new places to eat, drink and shop extending down the 700 block of Hamilton Street. For Pawlowski, the shiny new arena, on track to open in 2013, is a first step toward a much larger development he’s counting on to create a new Allentown.

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$80 Million Minor League Hockey Arena Possibly Coming To 7th And Hamilton Streets In Downtown Allentown

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

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Talk about a major revitalization coup!  Allentown appears to be getting an arena, possibly at 7th and Hamilton Sts., for a minor league hockey team.  This was reported on Channel 69 News last night as well as being written about in many Pennsylvania newspapers, including the Morning Call.

The possibilities of spin-off businesses from a project this large are tremendous.  Downtown Allentown would certainly benefit from this huge investment.  Personally, since Hess’s closed I do not have a reason to shop downtown anymore.  It would be nice to have a reason to spend time and money in downtown Allentown again.

The arena would have about 10,000 seats and be home ice for the Phantoms, a feeder team for the Flyers.  When not being used for hockey games the facility could host various large events in Allentown, which would bring thousands into the central business district (much like the Sovereign Center in Reading does). 

After the Phantoms were kicked out of the Spectrum, they moved to Glen Falls, NY.  Allentown was chosen as their new home so an arena needs to be constructed to house the team.  This will happen sooner than later.

Additional parking may need to be added as about 4,000 off-street parking spaces are available in center city Allentown.  If the downtown site does not work out, due to logistics, other sites around Allentown are being considered as well.  A new taxing district will be established to fund most of the cost of the arena.

Lehigh County is also hoping for a center city site due to the obstacles associated with developing the riverfront and the time involved to do so.

Hopefully all the stars will align and Allentown (Pennsylvania’s third largest city) can reap a huge economic harvest from this project.