Three municipalities team up to try to land improvement zone designation

By - Last modified: October 18, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Back to Top Comments Email Print
At F.L. Smidth in Catasauqua, Howard Lieberman, executive director of the Whitehall Township Industrial and Commercial Development Authority, discussed a plan today to spur redevelopment on seven underused sites in Whitehall, Coplay and Catasauqua totaling 130 acres.
At F.L. Smidth in Catasauqua, Howard Lieberman, executive director of the Whitehall Township Industrial and Commercial Development Authority, discussed a plan today to spur redevelopment on seven underused sites in Whitehall, Coplay and Catasauqua totaling 130 acres. - (Photo By Brian Pedersen)

Family-sustaining jobs, and lots of them.

That's the motto officials touted at a press conference today at the vacant F.L. Smidth industrial site in Catasauqua to announce their inter-municipal plan to create an economic development zone similar to the Neighborhood Improvement Zone in Allentown.

A subcommittee of the Whitehall Township Industrial and Commercial Development Authority will submit an application to the state later this month that committee members hope would spur redevelopment on seven underused sites in Whitehall, Coplay and Catasauqua that total 130 acres.

The application outlines seven sites that could attract developers to rehabilitate underused sites and bring new jobs to the area.

"Our community can create opportunities to attract new development and family-sustaining jobs," said Howard Lieberman, executive director of the Whitehall Township Industrial and Commercial Development Authority.

Municipal officials from Whitehall, Catasauqua and Coplay approved a resolution to cooperate with The Whitehall Township Industrial & Commercial Development Authority to submit the application to the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The committee has been meeting since August to develop the application.

The agency's goal is to market and develop vacant and underused sites in Catasauqua, Whitehall and Coplay in a positive manner without destruction of green sites, Lieberman said. He said it was the agency's sincere hope that the state would agree to support the project.

Pennsylvania Act 52, signed into law on July 9, authorized the creation of two city zones and one pilot zone for townships and boroughs, also known as the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone Pilot Zone.

For Catasauqua, the F.L. Smidth industrial site is the borough's primary interest in this project, said Mayor Barbara Schlegel. In addition to the creation of a municipal complex, she said she would like to attract businesses that could bring in taxes to the site. She described the area as the final frontier of Catasauqua, noting that the 17-acre site borders Front Street and the Lehigh River.

The borough is virtually land-locked and there's a need for careful planning, Schlegel said.

As an example, Lieberman said that with the F.L. Smidth property, the committee would not want to see businesses that would compete with nearby retail establishments, but instead businesses that would complement these establishments. One possibility is an emergency medical services facility.

"The goal is family-sustaining jobs," Lieberman said. "The CRIZ is built around business taxes generated."

While each project would require municipal review and approval, the CRIZ designation would benefit developers by establishing preliminary site reviews, evaluations and identify potential tax exempt financing, local financing and state funding programs, among other benefits, officials said. The goal, they said, is to accelerate the development process to get projects completed faster.

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. Brian also has a strong interest in health and fitness. He works part-time as a personal trainer at Steel Fitness Riverport in Bethlehem and earned his personal fitness trainer certification from World Instructor Training Schools. He loves to run and will be competing in his first half-marathon on Nov. 23 to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

advertisement

Comments


Be the first to comment.



Please note: All comments will be reviewed and may take up to 24 hours to appear on the site.

Post Comment
     View Comment Policy

Advanced search
Sponsored by
advertisement
  
  
advertisement
  
  
advertisement
Back to Top