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Can You Dig It

Construction signs point to healthy climate

- Last modified: April 26, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Though it's faced numerous hurdles, the ongoing construction of the arena project in Downtown Allentown is nothing short of amazing.

Say what you will about the potential for added traffic and congestion around a block with one-way streets. It's impossible to ignore the significant changes already under way in that section of the city.

And this is before a new hockey arena, seven-story hotel, high-rise office and two parking structures, all on one roughly five-acre plot, are fully built. It should be noted, too, that some historic structures, such as the Dime Bank Savings Building, will remain but be restored, adding historic significance to the site. So it's not all new construction, but some essential revitalization, too.

This forward momentum can be seen throughout the downtown.

Across the street, an 11-story office building for Two City Center is reaching higher week by week, a structure that will host not only offices but a restaurant.

Add to this the potential redevelopment along the Waterfront, plus the possibility of a new 33-story tower in the downtown. It's a lot of development, some of which is happening rapidly. Some of these projects, such as the arena, will see construction continuing for at least another year.

It's almost hard to imagine, but as you watch the beams get raised and the slabs of concrete get placed, one thing becomes clear. It's definitely happening and it's definitely showing progress.

A recent tour of the site showed the massive scope of the work involved and hammered home the potential impact such as development could have on the area, even if you live nowhere near the city.

Whether the end result matches everyone's expectations remains to be seen, but forward momentum is certainly a good thing. How could it not be?

Big bucks are fueling the investments, and here's a breakdown of the arena project costs, including the hotel, office building and parking structures.

Arena Project Construction $147,125,000

Site Acquisition & Improvements $27,600,000

Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment $4,200,000

Structured Parking $19,000,000

Hotel Shell & Core $20,000,000

Banquet & Restaurant Shell $3,500,000

Office Shell & Core $23,500,000

Financing Costs and Reserve Accounts $22,400,000

Design and Development costs $5,000,000

Subtotal $272,325,000

Added Parking for Office $1,500,000

TOTAL $273,825,000

Throw in a key $46 million construction project for the American Parkway Bridge over the Lehigh River into the mix, and you have the recipe for a potentially successful, vibrant downtown. Scheduled to be completed in December 2014, this along with other projects throughout the city is pointing to signs of a rejuvenated, healthy climate for this part of the region in 2014 and beyond.

Photo by Brian Pedersen
Photo by Brian Pedersen

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