ESSA Bank & Trust signed a lease for retail and office space in Tower 6, downtown Allentown’s newest building.
The Stroudsburg-based bank made the announcement in a news release Thursday.
The Class-A office building at Sixth and Hamilton streets is nearing completion and will open May 3.
ESSA will occupy its space Aug. 1, said Gary Olson, president and CEO of ESSA Bank & Trust.
At about 5,000 square feet, the space will take up most of the first floor of the building, Olson said. Aside from the retail branch, the space will include offices for trust officers and loan representatives to meet with customers, he said.
“It will be a traditional office, we did acquire some extra space for those offices to meet with customers,” Olson said. “We thought it was a great opportunity for us to get involved in the NIZ [Neighborhood Improvement Zone].”
The NIZ features a tax incentive that allows for reduced rental rates on specific properties and has helped to fuel more than $1 billion in construction of new buildings and renovations of existing ones in Allentown’s downtown.
With a space on the ground floor of Tower 6, ESSA will have a more visible presence in the city, Olson said.
For the most part, the offices and branches ESSA has in the Greater Lehigh Valley are those it took ownership of when it bought First Star Bank in 2012, Olson said.
ESSA will close its branch at 471 W. Wabash St. in South Allentown, which is away from the downtown, and move those eight employees to the new space in Tower 6, Olson said.
“We’ve never been in downtown Allentown, and this puts us square in the middle,” Olson said.
The branch on West Wabash Street will close toward the end of July, he said.
“ESSA is another strong indicator that we are building buildings to create an environment where people want to come to work,” said Jarrett Laubach, director of leasing for City Center Allentown, the real estate company developing the property. “ESSA’s commitment is driven in large part by the branding opportunities it serves.”
Tower 6 features a glass exterior that allows for a lot of natural light, with a highly configurable floor plan, Laubach said. Some tenants have collaborative workspaces; others have more traditional office spaces, but all have a naturally bright environment, he said. The environment helps create a building that attracts top talent and retains workers, he added.
The building has attracted a number of businesses from the professional services sector, including financial, legal and technology companies.
Built by Serfass Construction, Tower 6 has 12 floors and includes tenants such as CrossAmerica Partners, NJR Energy Services and Merrill Lynch.
Tower 6 is nearly fully leased, but still has about 10,000 square feet available in the 145,000-square-foot building, he said.
Though ESSA will occupy much of the first floor, the building has about 1,800 square feet available in that space, which could be for a primarily office operation, with the benefit of enhancing the tenant’s visibility to pedestrian and foot traffic on Sixth Street, Laubach said.
FIVE CITY CENTER IS NEXT
With Tower 6 set to open, City Center is turning its focus onto its next Class A office building under construction, Five City Center, which should finish in September 2019, Laubach said.
That building will look similar to Tower 6 and feature an all-glass exterior, he said.
“We learn as we build and we grow,” Laubach said. “The response to Tower 6 has been overwhelming. Five City Center will be a larger scale version of that building.”
Five City Center will also have a lot of flexibility in the floor plan, he said. That building will be 13 floors and 300,000-square-feet at Seventh and Hamilton streets.
“We are planning for it to be our largest building to date,” Laubach said.