With what I am hearing about a too-tight, too-expensive rental market in Bethlehem, 85 new apartment units are exactly what the city needs right now.
Taking a market-wide view, it’s a real tragedy that Bethlehem planners rejected them. But taking a more narrow view of the proposed site on Center Street, it’s clear that this would be a very stupid place for Abe Atiyeh to build apartments.
Putting apartments on a site with bad transit connections, far outside of walking distance to people’s basic needs ensures that everybody who rents there will be a car owner. It would create a lot of unnecessary traffic congestion on Center St, and would blight the neighborhood with a big ugly surface parking lot.
That said, Bethlehem city planners need to be asking themselves why nobody’s seizing the proverbial $20 bill on the sidewalk, when the tight rental market and two popular central business districts present a clear opportunity for developers to make some money building apartments.
Why is demand for apartments just turning into price inflation instead of new construction?