The site of a former Catholic seminary in Lehigh Township will become home to a mixed-use development that includes a hotel, meeting and event space, restaurants, spa and wellness center.
After receiving land development approval for the first part of the project in late August, David Jaindl, owner and president of Jaindl Land Co., said he hopes to begin construction later this year.
Jaindl said he received approvals from the township after four and a half years of working on the project. The first step involved getting the zoning in place and then filing a land development plan for phase one.
The plan calls for converting the former Mary Immaculate Center, part of a 600-acre property at 300 Cherryville Road in Northampton County.
“It’s a beautiful structure, it’s in great condition,” Jaindl said. “We are trying to repurpose it. We are keeping the chapel which will be a wedding venue.”
The property, which has been vacant for many years, sits back from the main road and on one of the highest spots in Northampton County.
The plan also includes construction of several detached buildings that will become a hotel with a portion of the rooms inside an existing structure and the remainder in a new building. Overall, he plans to create 206 hotel rooms.
The project includes a 124,000-square-foot main structure in addition to a 9,000-square-foot convent that will become a spa and wellness center.
A barn with a working greenhouse and event space will support farm-to-table dining options, he added.
Jaindl plans to complete the development in early 2022 and announce a formal name for the project at the end of September.
“We do a lot of land development projects from the ground up,” Jaindl said. “We like the structure. We’ve been looking at it for a long time.”
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia had users that wanted to take the structures down and Jaindl said he did not want to see that happen. He bought the land from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2016.
“We felt it was a great repurpose,” Jaindl said. “It’s an aggressive project, but it’s a project we feel very confident in completing.”
The second phase will feature a 500-unit residential portion, that still requires land development approval. These single-family homes will include some detached and attached units and will give homeowners the ability to access the resort amenities.
Jaindl said he plans to submit a concept plan to the township for the residential units within the next two months and potentially start the approval process. If the economy continues to perform well, he plans to start construction on the housing portion next fall.
“For the resort, we are going to have crop farming, grapevines, and orchards,” Jaindl said. “We have a little bit of experience on the agricultural side. We hired an operator that will be operating the facility.”
He hired Two Roads Hospitality as the operator. Jaindl’s son, Adam, is vice president of land development and serving as project VP.
Jaindl plans to start planting grapevines and orchards this spring and do a lot of organic work with crop farming.
Though he has not hired a general contractor yet to start construction, he plans to bid that project out. He said he did hire a contractor to get a pricing estimate. He also hired a design firm.
He declined to provide an estimated construction cost for the project.
The project could potentially add up to 300 jobs to the region when it opens, he added.
Cindy Miller, vice chair of the Lehigh Township board of supervisors, said the job creation is an important component of the project.
“We are basically a rural area so that’s important to us,” Miller said. “It will bring increases in tax revenue. We are looking for a way to protect the local economy especially when there’s a downturn.”
By improving the infrastructure of the property, it could raise the standard of living for residents of the township, she added. The project also opens opportunities for the township to apply for grants that it wasn’t able to before, she said.
As an example, with the addition of a hotel on the property, the township could qualify for hotel tax funds.
She sees positive benefits with taking a vacant building and repurposing it, particularly since it had been vacant for many years. Now, the project would bring many different amenities to the township.
“There was a potential down the road that this could become blighted,” Miller said.
She described the property as being one of a kind in the valley.