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Construction wraps up on $25M apartment project; next one around the bend

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(Photo By Dave Meyers)
Construction is now complete on 520 Lofts in downtown Allentown, a project that adds 68 upscale apartments to the city.
(Photo By Dave Meyers) Construction is now complete on 520 Lofts in downtown Allentown, a project that adds 68 upscale apartments to the city.

With construction finished on 520 Lofts, the upscale 68-unit building at 520 Hamilton St. in downtown Allentown, the project’s developer is shifting focus to the next residential building project.

Walnut Street Commons, set for a May opening, will add another 61 apartments to the downtown.

“That project is all closed in and we will begin to deliver apartments in May,” said J.B. Reilly, president and co-founder of City Center Investment Corp. in Allentown. “We are starting the waiting list for Walnut Street Commons.”

Walnut Street Commons is the first significant project the commercial real estate company will develop outside the 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.

Meanwhile, 520 Lofts also welcomed Strayer University, a private, for-profit college that opened a classroom space on the ground floor last week, with online classes beginning in April.

Reilly said City Center also has a 5,000-square-foot-office space inside 520 Lofts next to Strayer University that would be ideal for a five-to-15-employee company.

At 520 Lofts, City Center has more than 80 percent of the apartments leased, he said, with the remainder being leased in the next several weeks.

The site of 520 Lofts is the former Croc Rock music venue. Serfass Construction was the construction firm and Bernardon of Philadelphia was the architect.

Reilly cites the building’s access to nearby parking and proximity to other apartment buildings as helping to generate a feeling of community.

“Just being in the heart of the city and the vibrancy that’s emerging in downtown Allentown is a big attribute,” Reilly said. More people are interacting in the various community spaces gathering for happy hours and other activities.

“There’s a lot of stuff to do and people to do it with,” Reilly said. “That just keeps building as there’s more people living here.”

That, plus the large movement of employees to downtown Allentown from other areas of the Lehigh Valley are what’s helping drive further investment.

Reilly plans to have 310 additional apartments completed within the next two years for another project, SVN Square, a complex at Seventh and Walnut streets.

“We are building that right now, 95 units being delivered, starting later this year,” Reilly said.

With ADP as the anchor tenant of Five City Center (a City Center office building under construction at Eighth and Hamilton streets), there’s going to continue to be a lot of demand, Reilly said.

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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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