Most new upscale apartment projects in the Lehigh Valley feature pools, fitness centers, clubhouses and other amenities.
Developers of the former Klein Bros. Paper and Twine Co. building in Allentown took a different route.
They combined a vintage and exotic car showroom and dealership with seven high-end apartments. And they opened an auto restoration center in a building next door.
The $3 million project is the brainchild of the owners of RB Collection, a restoration shop and dealership in Breinigsville. The business has now moved to the former Klein Bros. building in Allentown.
“We were looking to expand back in 2014 because our operation in Breinigsville demanded more space,” said Al Ruozzi, who owns RB Collection with his brother, Alex. It operates under the umbrella of ACR Development.
The apartment complex, which sits above the dealership, is called Palazzo Reale. Units range in size from 1,300 square feet to 1,750 square feet. Rents range from $2,300 to $3,000 per month, Alex Ruozzi said.
“Before we started the project we noticed there was a need for bigger apartments in downtown Allentown,” Alex Ruozzi said.
Vacant since 1982, the property is at 107-111 W. Hamilton St. and 14-28 N. Front St. at the east gateway to downtown Allentown off the Hamilton Street Bridge. The site also is across from the America on Wheels museum, which was part of the draw, Al Ruozzi said.
Alex Ruozzi said RB Collection has seven cars in its showroom and 10 in the restoration center. The company has eight employees.
The company selected Valley Builders of Emmaus as the general contractor. R+D Architecture of Easton was the architect.
In remaking the former Klein Bros. building, the owners kept some of the elements, including original red maple flooring and metal beams.
“It is wonderful to see the building so attractively restored after being vacant.”
Scott Unger, executive director of the Allentown Economic Development Corp. commented on the project.
“Renovation projects are usually challenging but often the finished product is truly exceptional," Unger said. "This project is no exception and the residential use along with RB Collection is a perfect fit with the America On Wheels Museum.”