Three vacant lots in South Side Bethlehem could see more than 100 apartments, plus new office and retail space, in three buildings.
Thursday night, Bethlehem's planning commission granted a variance – essentially a waiver – to allow the developers to put the 111 apartment units in two buildings. Retail will be on the first floor of all three buildings, with all office space in one of the buildings, according to Alicia Miller Karner, director of the Department of Community and Economic Development for Bethlehem.
"They have not submitted their formalized plan to the planning commission," Miller Karner said. The developers, Bethworks Renovations LLC, are expected to present a more detailed application to the planning commission in the next 30 to 60 days, she said. Proposed heights are one building at five stories, another at four and another at three stories, all along the East Third Street corridor across from the Northampton Community College Fowler Family South Side Center.
The $25 million project is one of many listed in the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone application. With the award of the CRIZ earlier this year, developers now have various tax incentives to spur action on economic development projects both new and old.
According to Bethlehem's CRIZ application, Michael Perucci is the principal with Bethworks and an attorney with the Bethlehem law firm Florio Perucci Steinhardt & Fader.
Construction should take 24 to 36 months, according to the application.
Along with new construction for the CRIZ projects comes the need for more parking.
"The CRIZ has certainly accelerated it," Miller Karner said.
These three lots were factored into the city's parking needs but now, the city's redevelopment authority will engage a parking consultant to perform a study to analyze the city's parking needs, Miller Karner said.
"It's long been discussed that a parking garage is needed," Miller Karner said. The city is moving forward on a potential parking deck on Sands Bethworks property, she said.
Calls to the developers of the project were not returned in time for this report.
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