Renovations unlock new look for historic Allentown landmark
With five chandeliers saved from the former Hess's Department Store in downtown Allentown and restored to their former glory and a pair of vaults that highlight the building's historic integrity, Vault 634 offers a high-end venue that blends the old with the new.
Members of Commercial Real Estate Women Lehigh Valley, a professional real estate organization, got a chance to step inside Vault 634 on Wednesday afternoon to take a tour of the completed renovations to the former Lehigh Valley Trust Building at 634 Hamilton St. in downtown Allentown.
Zachary Jaindl, chief operating officer for Jaindl Enterprises, said he and his father, Mark, are preservationists, and when they bought the bank building in 2004, they knew they could restore it to become something rare.
“We knew there was a higher and better use for it,” Zachary Jaindl said.
Once the Neighborhood Improvement Zone legislation took effect several years ago, companies began investing in properties and development projects rose in the downtown. That’s when Jaindl saw the opportunity to create something different.
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.
Jaindl described the $5 million project as a boutique wedding/event venue.
“It’s exactly what the Lehigh Valley needed,” he said. “We are not only introducing new spaces but new ways of processing events.”
The venue offers a variety of amenities, including valet parking, a smoked oak dance floor and the ability to handle setup and tear down for events.
“We wanted to be sure we meet the needs of the modern bride and corporate client,” Jaindl said.
Jaindl Enterprises announced the project in 2014 and began construction in September 2017, with Serfass Construction of North Whitehall Township hired to transform the structure into a space for weddings and events.
The completed space can seat about 225 guests or 450 standing, Jaindl said. The venue has booked about 50 events, including some scheduled for 2020, he said.
Aside from weddings, guests are requesting dates for birthday parties, holiday parties and corporate events, he added.
Workers completed a 2,000-square-foot addition to the 17,000-square-foot-building and repainted all crown molding. Workers also retained a large 900-square-foot-stained glass skylight so that 100 percent light could shine through the ceiling. Previously, it only let in about 10 percent of the light.
The venue is using one vault as a showcase while another became a signature “vault bar,” where the vault opens into a small bar on the first floor behind a curved staircase.
Workers also added a speakeasy lounge to the basement and built a full kitchen for caterers to the rear of the site, as well as an elevator tower and secondary entrance along the Seventh Street corridor.
Howard Kulp Architects of Allentown was the architect. Barry Isett & Associates provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing and structural engineering.
HB Engineers Inc. of Lemoyne, provided the bulk of engineering services.