Three vacant lots of underused parking in South Bethlehem could finally see development if construction begins next spring on three buildings of retail, office and residential units.
The $35 million project, Greenway Commons, earned final planning commission approval Thursday night. It now heads to the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone authority, with approval expected in two to three months, said Robert De Beer, director of development for Peron Development LLC, a company based at Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader, a law firm in Bethlehem.
The CRIZ is a tax incentive program aimed at spurring economic development available in only two cities in the state: Bethlehem and Lancaster.
Plans for Greenway Commons have been modified since the company introduced the project this year, according to De Beer.
The project has three buildings for a total of 50,000 square feet of retail, 63,000 square feet of office and 110 one- and two-bedroom, upscale apartment units, De Beer said this morning. Monthly rents for one-bedroom apartments are expected to be $900, while two-bedroom units will be $1,200-$1,400, he said.
One building will be five stories; the other two will be four stories, De Beer said.
USA Architects, Planners Interior Designers, which has an office in Easton, is the architect.
BethWorks Renovations, an entity of Peron Development, bought the properties in 2004.
“We’ve owned the lots for nearly a decade now; we just think it’s a really good urban infill project,” De Beer said. “We think this is a real catalytic project for that area. We are bullish about bringing new residential units to South Bethlehem.”
The company has received a number of calls from prospective retail tenants, he said. Service and entertainment-oriented businesses and restaurants would be good retail uses of the site, he added.
The project abuts the greenway, which is a path that connects to parks and runs through the neighborhoods of South Bethlehem.
“It will bring that mixed-use community with the use, but also with the time of day,” said Alicia Karner, director of community and economic development for Bethlehem. “It has the right mix, the right design for the redevelopment we want to see in the eastern end of the South Side of the business district.”
She noted the project would bring activity to the site at night. The Fowler Family South Side Center at Northampton Community College has primarily used the site for parking, she added.
Parking is available on-site for the Greenway Commons project, with a plan to build a nearby parking deck – for public use – at the corner of East Third and Polk streets, Karner added.
The project is on track for consideration before the end of the year, she said.
The site, along East Third Street, is adjacent to Social Still, a craft distillery under construction in a building that formerly housed offices for the National Museum of Industrial History. Peron Development also is developing that project, which is on the same side of the street as Greenway Commons.
Under the name BethWorks Now, Peron Development bought the building and is restoring it as an adaptive reuse. Once it opens, Social Still is expected to bring new nightlife to the same business corridor.