For decades, Martin Tower cast an indelible mark on Bethlehem.
But with plans to implode the 21-story tower on May 19, the city’s planning commission will meet on April 11 to review a new plan for the property.
In March, the site’s developers submitted a master plan to the city that includes more than 500 apartments, plus a hotel, restaurant, gas station, three medical office buildings and two retail buildings.
The public will have the opportunity to weigh in at the April 11 meeting. The city is treating the latest proposal as a sketch plan and does not expect to take any action at the meeting.
Some already are weighing in on the project
Bruce Haines, managing partner of Hotel Bethlehem, said the proposal for a hotel at the Martin Tower site could take people out of downtown Bethlehem and business away from his hotel.
“Competition is competition, but the new hotel will, without a doubt, take people off the streets of downtown Bethlehem,” Haines said, noting that it could be harder for Hotel Bethlehem to undertake its own expansion project, set to cost about $40 million.
Haines said he is also waiting to see what Wind Creek Hospitality will do once it finalizes its acquisition of Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem. Wind Creek previously announced it would build a second hotel and a large convention center on the property.
Once the headquarters of the now defunct Bethlehem Steel Corp., Martin Tower has sat vacant since 2007.
Over the past two years, Lewis Ronca and Norton Herrick, the owners and developers of the site, have demolished vacant buildings on the site and removed asbestos from the tower.
Efforts to reach the developers were not successful.
The project will likely change, particularly since the developers have not named any tenants, said
Alicia Miller Karner, director of community and economic development for Bethlehem.
“In a parcel this size, there’s going to be changes,” Karner said.
Overall, she saw the residential component as a positive element.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to put residential right near our downtown,” Karner said.