Good News on Dixie Cup

The crown jewel in the Wilson new urbanism remake is back in the news again:

Could Wilson’s famed Dixie Cup soon be a glass half filled?

After decades of false construction starts, shattered condo dreams, and a gathering sense of blight, the 6.6-acre former paper cup factory is now the subject of a bold – and if you believe local officials – freshly promising development plan.

Spurred by businessman Joseph Reibman, one of the property’s owners, a coalition of local interests is asking Wilson Area School District to approve a tax-abatement scheme to help jump-start a $50 million $60 million clean-up and renovation [...]

Once the site is cleaned up, the plan calls for a mixed-use commercial and residential property, with offices and one- and two-bedroom apartments.

I don’t really understand why they aren’t going with the original plan. The multi-family market is even better than it was back when they introduced the Dixie Lofts proposal.

(Thanks: Tom Coombe)

Comments

  1. John says:

    Interesting – you are against the Martin Tower project even though it’s identical. You complained about tax breaks there yet support them with the Dixie Cup building.

    What’s your angle? The Steel building is just as much (if not more) a neighborhood than the Dixie Cup building. Following your previous logic, the Dixie Cup building should be allowed to rot away while all available $$ go to Easton.

  2. Ron says:

    I don’t know where the Dixie Cup building is, I’m unfamiliar with Easton. But I do know Martin Towers is on an island completely separated from the North side and any neighborhood.

    Beyond that, I really don’t consider TIF’s a tax break. There is no risk for the taxpayer. They are deferrals of potential and not open ended. I think they are a creative and valuable tool for developers.

    We’re dealing with a TIF project now “Hamilton Crossings” in Lower Macungie Township. While I do have a problem with the additional state grants this project is receiving above and beyond the TIF I do not have an issue with the TIF mechanism which would be the lion’s share of funding to deal with geological issues that were discovered on the build site.

    • John says:

      How is Martin Tower isolated? There’s a supermarket, Lowe’s, pharmacy, banks and Westgate Mall all within walking distance. And the property is big enough to be its own neighborhood if converted to residential rental units.

      The Dixie Cup building is just off the 25th St exit of route 22. Similar physical surroundings as Martin Tower and same potential.

      I think we too quickly give away TIF designations. I think they’re warranted for the Dixie and Martin projects. I’d tell the Hamilton Crossings developer ‘no’ and look to the next developer. With that location and surrounding demographics, it’s an unnecessary giveaway.

      • Jon Geeting says:

        As I pointed out in the post on Wilson/Dixie, the pedestrian and bike connections there are surprisingly good around the back of the property, and the distance from downtown Easton is pretty short. Most of Wilson is not the auto-oriented 25th Street intersection and the sprawling gateway on Butler.

        Martin Tower is on what is basically a highway, that nobody would actually walk or bike on. Bethlehem/PennDOT missed the opportunity to turn 8th Ave into a calmer road that would enable better pedestrian connections with the Northside downtown area.

      • urban_LV says:

        John -
        On paper, Martin Tower is a short distance from the nearby shopping. In reality, its just not a walkable part of the city. All the nearby retail is big box stores in the middle of huge parking lots on the other side of a 45 mph highway. 8th Avenue is five to eight lanes wide and all the nearby buildings are designed for cars and highways.

        More importantly, the site is isolated from the rest of the city.
        Route 378 completely cuts off the grid. To the east, the creek and steep hill cut the property off from the rest of the city. I think Bethlehem can get more impact from investing money in the neighborhoods surrounding the two downtown shopping districts, rather than investing money in this isolated site.

  3. Ron says:
  4. John says:

    All of the issues raised here could be easily addressed, and in fact are the same issues that face the Dixie facility, Jon’s comments about the back of the building notwithstanding.

    Trolley service to connect Martin Towers to downtown (eliminate the connectivity issue). Build an island in the middle of 8th St. to slow down traffic and improve pedestrian access to cross the street. This isn’t rocket science and it’s not expensive.

    Ron, I’d tell that developer in Lower Mac a flat NO. There is no reason on the planet to subsidize development out there. And if such subsidy is even being considered, the first entity that should be on the hook is the seller. Why should the taxpayer subsidize their profits for the sale of their subpar land?

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