A global shipper of stained glass supplies and products is poised to open a facility in June where people can buy and create their own items.
Though Warner Stained Glass already has a store on Roble Road in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, where people can purchase these products, workers are renovating a facility in Whitehall near Lehigh Valley Mall that would include an art gallery, classroom and office and retail space.
The project will cost an estimated $3 million to build, a figure that keeps rising, said Angelo Grello, chief operating officer for Warner Stained Glass.
Once complete, the glass art business would include an Internet café, live entertainment, learning center and glass blowers and other artists on-site, all-day, Grello said.
The site, called Warner Art Glass Center, will hire about 20 employees, he said.
Serfass Construction Co. of North Whitehall Township is renovating the site at 603 Eighth St.
“It’s getting a new roof on it, and we are fitting it out with new bathrooms, new retail space,” said Matthias Fenstermacher, vice president of Serfass. “It will have stained concrete floor, office space and all the equipment to produce the stained glass.”
Workers are gutting the building and adding all new lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, Fenstermacher said.
Once complete, the site will have 70 parking spaces, Grello said. He said he plans to build stairs that lead directly from the facility to the Golden Corral, a restaurant adjacent to the building.
The site will be open to all ages, Grello said.
“A lot of the lessons are free,” he said. “They can also order custom goods from artists and watch their goods being made.”
Patrons can buy videos that show their products being made, he added. Tiffany lamps, stained glass panels, figurines and mosaic panels are examples of the products that can be made and bought, Grello said.
The owner, Charles Warner, wants the facility to be “a real gem,” Grello said.
Built in 1956, the single-story, 11,500-square-foot building was last used as a Gymboree and kidney dialysis center, Grello said.
By the fall, the company plans to expand the site with more construction to include a 35-foot-glass tower that extends out of the top of the building, a 6,000-square-foot space for an art gallery and an increased amount of finished products for sale.
The exterior of the building will be pearl white stucco with bright-colored light-emitting diode lights that constantly change, Grello said.
Warner Stained Glass also is seeking to be included in the curricula of local school districts. It is talking with Northampton Area School District to be the model district, Grello said.
The company imports and exports glass products from throughout the world from its Roble Road warehouse and showroom and has an online store.