You and I both know Bass Pro shops would want a humongous surface parking lot as part of any deal on the No. 2 Machine Shop. I have no idea why anyone thinks that a hunting and fishing store is a good fit for an urban core location, but if they want a surface parking lot that should be a deal-breaker. Either they build structured parking or no go.
I know some people think these parking lots can be redeveloped later, but I don’t see the evidence that the site is developing in a way that will easily facilitate urban infill construction later. It would be a tragedy if this site turned into something like the Promenade Shops. It should just be more Southside street grid, best accessible on foot or transit, with cars a lower priority mode.
The benefit of not having to “blaze a new identity for Bethlehem is that you can be picky about design stuff like that and demand concessions from developers. You don’t have to kiss their asses and sacrifice your site plans.
Now, as he prepares to be sworn in to the city’s top office Monday, Donchez is tasked not with blazing a new identity for Bethlehem, but with finding a way to keep the good things coming while dealing with a more sober fiscal reality that has shrunk city government in recent years.
“We have to maintain the momentum,” Donchez said.
His first-year agenda is packed with flashy economic development projects like courting a Bass Pro sporting goods store for the old Steel plant and, by year’s end, nuts-and-bolts labor negotiations with police and fire unions, both of which took significant retirement cuts for new employees in the current contract.