$250 Million of Development Coming to Allentown Waterfront

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Haters gon’ hate, but obviously this project is going to be huge for the Allentown redevelopment agenda, and help coordinate everyone’s expectations around more growth and development in the city. People are going to be more likely to invest their money in the city if they expect other people to do the same:

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.

And:

“The utilization of the NIZ was crucial to development of this property,” Jaindl said. “Without it, I don’t think this property could be developed.”

The flurry of plans around Allentown’s hockey arena project have been dominated by City Center Investments. The quarter-billion-dollar plan by the Waterfront developers rival those of City Center, which has proposed spending more than $200 million to build three downtown office buildings, a 180-room hotel and as many as 200 upscale apartments.

When all the new buildings open, Waterfront and City Center will be competing for many of the same tenants, but that didn’t seem to bother Jim Harbaugh, COO of City Center.

Colin McEvoy also reports that they’re thankfully not planning to overdo it on surface parking:

Keppel said the development proposes 2,800 parking spots, with about 2,200 of them in two multi-level parking garages. The remaining would be in surface lots or street parking.

Can we try to have all of this be structured or curb parking, with zero land on this site wasted on surface lots? Think about all the truly beautiful places in the world that you like – how many of them feature abundant surface parking lots?
(Thanks: Emily Opilo, Scott Kraus and Matt Assad)

Glenn Reibman Bleg

I’m too young to remember Glenn Reibman’s tenure as Northampton County Executive. Since he’s being mentioned as a candidate for County Executive, I’ll throw it open to readers to comment on the nature of his leadership, his successes and failures, and anything else you may remember. Were there any noteworthy policy achievements during his tenure on the issues of interest to this blog?