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Event space among newest additions to Easton’s Silk project

The space would be for weddings, business meetings and other events and should be ready to open in the fall, said developer Mark Mulligan, CEO of VM Development.

Once completed, Silk will feature a mix of upscale apartments and commercial space in a former mill complex at 13th and Bushkill streets, sandwiched between the city’s West Ward and College Hill sections.

Construction began several years ago on the $60 million project to transform the vacant textile mill into a mix of commercial and residential space.

A number of small businesses and residents have moved in as the project enters its final phase this year. They include two breweries, a café, fitness center, winery, hair salon, and ice cream shop.

All told, about 25 businesses have opened at the site, with the developer expecting to announce more tenants this year.

On the residential side, the project will feature 160 apartment units by the end of this summer. About 90 units have been leased, Mulligan said. The apartments include both one- and two-bedroom units, as well as townhouse-style apartments.

Monthly rents for all the apartments start at $1,195 and go up to nearly $3,000.

The developer is also expanding the amount of parking spaces from about 200 to more than 400, he added.

From the beginning, the project had its doubters, according to Easton Mayor Sal Panto.

Many people felt the city should just build a shopping center on the land, Panto said. He said city officials were visionary in the sense that they didn’t want a development that would compete with the downtown.

“For the most part, there are outside companies moving there,” Panto said. “It’s been an arts-concentrated project. The businesses are flourishing and the apartments are rented.”

To increase people’s access to the site, the city would like to build a pedestrian bridge to connect The Karl Stirner Arts Trail to the mill, Panto said. The trail runs along the Bushkill Creek.

The city is also working with the board of the trail’s nonprofit operator, Karl Stirner Arts Trail Inc., to buy a vacant industrial site near the Silk project, he said. The site was formerly home to the Easton Iron and Metal Co.

“There’s no definitive use for the property but it will be an arts and environmental literacy-related development,” said Dave Hopkins, director of public works.

The city plans to close on a deal in July, he added.