City selects consultants to lead convention center project

By - Last modified: March 21, 2013 at 11:23 AM

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Bethlehem and Northampton County officials have selected a Chicago consulting company and an Easton architecture firm to lead the feasibility study to determine the size and site for a new convention/expo center in the city.

USA Architects, Planners and Interior Designers of Easton will help HVS Convention, Sports, & Entertainment Facilities Consulting of Chicago. decide the best location and size for the facility.

The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Bethlehem will be considering the recommendation and the HVS proposal with an official vote at the authority meeting today.

The cost is $49,750 which includes expenses capped at $2,250. Once HVS is officially chosen, work will start no later than mid-April, according to Tony Hanna, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Bethlehem.

Using a grant of $50,000 from Northampton County hotel room rental tax funds, the authority sought proposals from qualified consultants to complete the analysis through a request for proposals for a facility at the Bethlehem Works Redevelopment Area, which includes SteelStacks and the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

Seven firms responded to the request, said Hanna. The proposals were then reviewed by a committee that included Hanna, Mayor John Callahan, Alicia Karner, economic development administrator for Northampton County; Michael Stershic, president of Discover Lehigh Valley; Joseph Kelly, Bethlehem director of Community and Economic Development, Kassie Hilgert, senior vice president of ArtsQuest; Robert DeSalvio, president of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem; Kostas Kalogeroloupolos, executive vice president of Meyer-Jabara Hotels.

The committee interviewed four of the seven firms that submitted proposals.

The Chicago-based HVS Convention, Sports, & Entertainment Facilities Consulting, has completed over 350 assignments throughout the world, analyzing convention and conference centers, hotels, event and civic centers, tourism attractions, and other development initiatives.

"This facility would mean additional hotel occupancy, additional convention and meeting space, additional food and beverage business and most importantly additional jobs for Northampton County, the City of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley," said County Executive John Stoffa.

The feasibility study will take approximately 10 to 12 weeks to complete, with a final report to be issued by the end of June or early July.

Callahan said the facility is expected to be privately owned and operated and will be a tax generating property.

Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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