With steel beams set for the seven-story hotel portion of the PPL Center hockey arena in Downtown Allentown, visible construction is gaining steam this spring.
During a tour of the arena site yesterday, Mike Leone, project manager for Hammes Co., the arena developer, said about 135 workers are on site at any given day.
“You can see it start to take shape,” said Leone.
As workers put up steel for the hotel, work will then move further west on the site and then head south.
Working at 24 feet below street level, workers are digging deep to ensure stability. Piles to support buildings reach over 200 feet deep into the earth.
Pilings generally are installed anywhere from 25 feet to 225 feet deep.
There are close to 1,700 piles at the 5-acre site, said Leone.
In comparison, the 11-story Two City Center office building under construction across the street has about 200 pilings, said Leone.
“This site is very complicated because there’s a lot of underground work,” said Leone.
Workers secured the historic Dime Savings Bank Building, which dates to 1925 and Leone said the plan is to make some modifications and some energy efficiencies to restore the structure so it remains on site.
“You’ll still have a nice, traditional element that’s left in Allentown,” said Leone.
The arena is set to open in September 2014. The center ice area will be about 100 feet wide.
By Memorial Day, the company expects to pour the base of the first parking garage and possibly start installing steel beams for the office building.
The north side garage would be the last structure to be built before workers dismantle the cranes, said Leone.
Alvin H. Butz Inc. of Allentown is the construction manager for the project.