Developers announced plans today for a five-story apartment and retail complex to be built across Seventh Street from the hockey arena.
Shouting above the construction of two office building a hotel and an arena already under construction, officials from City Center Corp. and Pennrose Properties announced plans for $30 million, five-story building that is to include 160 upscale apartments, as many as 10 shops and a 125-space underground parking lot.
Located on Seventh Street, between Hamilton and Linden, the new building will also extend the city’s existing Artswalk by converting a small parking lot into a pocket park that will include colored and pattern concrete pathway, seating and sculpture displays.
“This project is another significant step toward making downtown Allentown a fun, exciting, vibrant, walkable community,” said J.B. Reilly, CEO of City Center Lehigh Valley. “We plan to create a lively environment adjacent to the arena and hotel by blending dynamic retail, great restaurants with outdoor seating, park space and stylish apartments with the culture of the artswalk.”
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.
Allentown‘s hockey arena will not open until 2014, but when it does it will help spur almost runaway development in a downtown that has been ravaged by three decades of decay, according to bond documents filed Friday.
The 354-page statement for investors interesting in buying $234 million paints a rosy future in which the next 12 years will bring not only the 8,500-seat hockey arena, but more than 1 million square feet of office space, two hotels, retail shops, a convention center, a 12-screen cinema and hundreds of apartments.
All told, the study by CSL International forecasts that Allentown’s unique 127-acre Neighborhood Improvement Zone will create 7,500 new jobs and $44 million in annual state and local taxes.
At least that’s the pitch being made to investors who in the coming weeks will be able to buy $235 million worth of revenue bonds to get the complex at Seventh and Hamilton streets started.
Editor’s note: Two major thumbs up for using anything made in Pennsylvania!!
Steel could begin rising at the site of Allentown’s arena in September.
Depending on how quickly Vollers Excavating & Construction finishes carving out the base of the 8,500-seat arena, foundation work could begin before the end of the summer and the building’s steel skeleton could start to rise not long after Labor Day, said ACIDA Executive Director Scott Unger.
Vollers, which has been paid $1.5 million to date, must still complete the delicate work of digging out the foundation around the historic Dime Savings and Trust building, which will be integrated into the arena to serve partly as the ticket office, Unger said.
Downtown Allentown is in line for an unprecedented $200 million in new development, and as much as $500 million if a 10-year master plan pans out, all made possible by its one-of-a-kind Neighborhood Improvement Zone.
And that doesn’t include the planned $158 million hockey arena.
Developer City Center Investment Corp. won approval Tuesday from the Allentown Commercial Industrial Development Authority for $135 million in Neighborhood Improvement Zone financing, subsidized by the state and local tax revenues of its future tenants.
City Center will supplement that with $45 million in additional private financing and private capital to construct four new buildings arrayed around Allentown’s Center Square, including three new office complexes and a 200-room hotel valued at more than $200 million, said J.B. Reilly, City Center co-owner.
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.