The revitalization of Allentown is extending farther away from the downtown with the start of demolition on the $300 million Waterfront project along the Lehigh River that’s expected to bring up to 3,000 jobs upon completion.
On July 24, Jaindl Properties and Dunn Twiggar Company, known together as The Waterfront Development Co., started demolition on “Shop 2,” a former Lehigh Structural Steel Building, near the southern end of the site.
While officials talked about the importance of the state’s rivers to economic growth, redevelopment and commerce, here’s hoping that other cities and towns take note of the aesthetic benefits that river frontage offers for commercial and residential development.
Bethlehem, Easton and other Lehigh Valley cities and towns have opportunities worth exploring for development along waterways, which offer the benefit of not only a great view, but recreational activities. From waterfront dining to kayaking, boating and fishing, the Valley has the ability to repurpose and reclaim its water resources through strategic economic development, much like this project is looking to do. Building or expanding along the river banks in a sensible manner can offer fresh opportunities for growth.
With a mixed-use project, multiple options exist for attracting development, and waterways can be a strong draw, particularly if it’s one that adds amenities that showcase the natural backdrop.
• At 615 Waterfront Drive, an eight-story building that’s among the first to be constructed, and the River Walk, which will extend along the half-mile of the project’s direct river frontage and will offer walking and running paths, programmable amphitheaters and two floating docks.
• The Waterfront also announced that Edward Jackowski will be joining its team as the director of construction. Jackowski recently served as construction manager for the new PPL Center in Downtown Allentown and will be overseeing construction of the infrastructure and buildings at The Waterfront.
• The project itself is expanding as Jaindl Properties said it acquired the adjacent Lehigh Valley Dairy Building on Furnace Street in Allentown. The addition is not part of Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement District, but will grow The Waterfront’s total land by approximately 7 percent. The addition can be used for parking or market-driven future growth.
While the new development will replace an old, abandoned steel manufacturing site, an economy of tomorrow awaits.