A group of investors who bought The Slatington Marketplace a few years ago is planning to renovate portions of the property to create an event venue and space for food vendors.
Over the years, the owners expanded the antique mall co-op and now have about 140 vendors in the 240,000-square-foot-building, said Sean Ganey, part owner of JJS Land Development LLC of Allentown, the owners of the property in Washington Township, Lehigh County.
While the antique mall will remain, the owners want to create the next phase, which Ganey said is to include a farmers market-type concept with about 55 vendors, including produce stands, bakeries, wineries and other food-related businesses.
The owners already have created five to seven retail spaces and are in talks to potentially bring in a Dunkin’ Donuts, Ganey said.
While the farmers market would be the first phase of the project, the second phase would entail creating a 45,000-square-foot space for an expo center in the building, which could host a variety of events, such as trade shows, gun shows, wedding shows or craft beer events, he said.
“It’s really a kind of destination for people on the weekend,” Ganey said. “Young people are always looking for something to do.”
Ganey said it would also be a “kid-friendly” place.
The marketplace is the site of the former Keystone Lamp Factory, a major employer in the Slate Belt region that shuttered in the late 1980s.
The marketplace owners will keep some of the old compressors and manufacturing equipment on display once the project is finished, Ganey said.
“We are trying to keep the old rustic feel, but modernize it a little bit,” Ganey said. “The old lamp factory is a great building. It was a white elephant for years and years. The groundwork was laid with the existing antique mall.”
Construction is expected to start in December or January.
The marketplace and its 140 vendors will continue to operate through the renovation process, he said.
The total estimated construction cost is about $5 million. The first part, the farmers market, should be complete in the spring, while the second part, the expo center, should be finished in fall 2019, he said.
The owners plan to select a construction firm in the next few weeks, he said. The architect for the project is Daniel Ebner Architects of Allentown.
The building is at 8281 Route 873.
There is not a lot of commercial activity in that area, but Ganey hopes this project will change that.