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Dixie Cup plant developer still hopeful to start $90M property revamp

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(Contributed) 
Though delayed for several years, the developer of the former Dixie Cup plant in Wilson Borough still has plans to transform the site into hundreds of apartments and new retail/office space. Here is a view of the proposed plan for the main residential entrance. NK Architects of Morristown is the firm that designed the project.
(Contributed) Though delayed for several years, the developer of the former Dixie Cup plant in Wilson Borough still has plans to transform the site into hundreds of apartments and new retail/office space. Here is a view of the proposed plan for the main residential entrance. NK Architects of Morristown is the firm that designed the project.

The co-owner of a long dormant manufacturing plant near Easton hopes to wrap up environmental testing on the site and begin construction next year on a mixed-use project.

Joseph Reibman has been trying for several years to redevelop the 600,000-square-foot former Dixie Cup plant near the 25th Street exit off Route 22 in Wilson Borough.

His goal is to create a mixture of apartments, retail and office space called Dixie Commons. Reibman and his partners presented plans to the borough several years ago, but must finish environmental testing and remediation before starting construction on the vacant site.

Once the testing and soil sampling is completed, the owners can submit a remedial investigation/cleanup plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Act 2, Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act.

The extensive remediation required for the site has been stalling the project for several years, but the developer is hopeful to start construction by mid to late 2019.

Reibman, who is a lawyer from Allentown, estimated the project to cost between $80 million and $90 million to complete.

The work would include removing lead-based paint and asbestos, replacing all fire-suppression systems in the building, installing bathrooms, and adding 100,000-square-feet of new windows.

The plan calls for up to 300 upscale apartments, both one and two-bedroom units, with commercial/mixed use on the ground floor, he said.

“I think it is an iconic building,” Reibman said. “I think the Lehigh Valley is growing, the need for good, upscale apartments is strong. It’s a great location. Otherwise, what do you do with the building?”

He plans to keep the iconic Dixie Cup structure that sits on top of the building.

“The building lays out perfectly for apartments and offices as well,” Reibman said.

Though he has talked to some medical providers about leasing office space in the building, he has no tenants yet.

Wilson was among 18 municipalities in 2013 that earned designation as Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zones, where the state offers tax incentives to spur revitalization of underused and blighted properties, including the former Dixie plant. The KOEZ offers a 10-year abatement of taxes for residential properties and a 10-year abatement of state and corporate income taxes for businesses that locate in a zone.

He hopes to get financing so he can move ahead with the project.

Reibman also said he has to present new plans to the borough and would have to get construction approvals, but said that should not be difficult.

He does not have a construction firm yet.

NK Architects of Morristown, N.J. designed the project.

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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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