With an aging baby boomer population, the leader of a local nonprofit that serves seniors said the need for larger, centralized space led to the purchase of a new site in the Lehigh Valley.
Meals on Wheels of the Greater Lehigh Valley bought 1300 N. Sherman St. in Allentown for $1.06 million, said Cindy McDonnell Feinberg, co-owner of Feinberg Real Estate Advisors LLC in South Whitehall Township.
Feinberg, who represented Meals on Wheels in the transaction, said she finalized the sale Wednesday.
The new 17,280 square-foot-site formerly housed a sports memorabilia business that no longer needed the warehouse space locally, she said.
Paul Weiss of PF Weiss Realty in Palmer Township represented the seller, SEM PER Properties LLC, Feinberg said.
Currently, Meals on Wheels has its Northampton County site at 4240 Fritch Drive in Bethlehem Township, in a space that is about 12,000 square feet and includes its kitchen, said Victoria Coyle, CEO of Meals on Wheels of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
The organization will relocate its kitchen and all staff to the Allentown site in about a year to 18 months, she said. The organization will renovate the inside of its new Allentown location and will put that project out to bid.
Its Fritch Drive location will go on the market shortly. The organization rents space at its Lehigh County site at 4234 Dorney Park Road in South Whitehall Township.
“This new building brings us much more centralized to where our clients are,” Coyle said. “The three cities are where our biggest concentration of clients are, Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. The expanded kitchen will give us room to prepare and store more food and develop additional offerings for our clients as well as for general purpose use.”
A year ago, Meals on Wheels Northampton County merged with its Lehigh County counterpart to become one organization, she said. The organization has about 2,000 total clients and delivers 1,100 meals per day, with 80 routes for delivery, she said. That represents 50 routes in Northampton County and 30 in Lehigh County, she said.
The reason for moving its kitchen is that the current kitchen is not big enough to accommodate the growth in population in the coming years, she added.
“Census data shows the senior population is really growing in the next five to 10 years,” Coyle said. “We need to keep pace with that.”
In addition, the organization, which has about 50 full-time employees, will introduce a new breakfast program and kitchen staff are testing what food items freeze and reheat well.
Feinberg said she began the search for a new location for the organization in August 2018.
“We were in search of a location that would offer convenience for the volunteers, industrial space for the commercial kitchen and great working space for the staff and board members,” Feinberg said.
The average age of the organization’s volunteers is 70, so Coyle said they needed a site with good parking and traffic flow.
“We had looked at this property in the fall but we were outbid by another buyer and then that deal fell through,” Coyle said.
When it became available, Meals on Wheels was ready to go, she added.