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No word yet on construction delay for 33-story Allentown tower

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2014 plans for the Landmark Tower./File
2014 plans for the Landmark Tower./File

A plan to build a 33-story tower in downtown Allentown has so far been just a plan.

Though construction of office, retail and residential buildings is picking up in the city’s core, mainly from City Center Lehigh Valley’s developments, others have not moved forward.

While construction on the $70 million Allentown Landmark Tower at the corner of Ninth and Walnut streets has not begun, its developer, Bruce Loch, has said previously that he is confident he can build and fill the tower.

The project received approval from the city’s planning commission in 2015 and appeared likely to begin.

However, Loch has yet to submit a plan to a city board for review, which will ultimately determine whether the project gets financing from the Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

The NIZ features a tax incentive that allows for reduced rental rates and has fueled more than $1 billion in construction of new buildings and renovations of existing ones.

The Landmark Tower could be one of them.

The project application has not been submitted to the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority, said Steve Bamford, executive director of ANIZDA. Once a project is submitted, the board’s project review committee reviews the project and then it’s reviewed by the full ANIZDA board, he said.

Loch, a Certified Public Accountant who leads an accounting and consulting firm in South Whitehall Township, said “we are getting close now, stay tuned.”

He declined further comment.

“I met with Bruce Loch and he intends to come before ANIZDA at some point,” Bamford said. “We’d like to see as many developers as possible take advantage of the NIZ as a development finance tool. But at this point, we don’t have any detailed information to evaluate.”

Mike Moore, the city’s communications director, said there is nothing new to report on the tower project.

If built according to its proposal, Landmark Tower would have two floors of retail, 24 floors of offices, seven floors of condominiums and access to a parking deck. Loch previously said he expects construction to begin 90 to 120 days after leases are signed. W2A Design Group of Allentown is the architect.

At about 430 feet, Landmark Tower would be the Lehigh Valley’s tallest, topping Martin Tower in Bethlehem (330 feet) and the PPL Corp.’s building (322 feet) in Allentown.

The tower would go up across from City Center Investment Corp.’s planned Five City Center Urban Innovation Campus. City Center plans to build that site at the 700 block of Hamilton Street, bounded by Hamilton, Seventh, Walnut and Eighth streets.

Five City Center is expected to start construction next year and will include a tower at Eighth and Hamilton streets that will be 24 floors, 353 feet tall and have 442,000 square feet.

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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. 4108. 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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