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Plans to demolish Allentown State Hospital may be back on

The Allentown State Hospital on Hanover Avenue in Allentown. (Photo by Christopher Holland) –

Plans to demolish the Allentown State Hospital on Hanover Avenue in East Allentown appear back on track.

State Sen. Pat Browne (R-Allentown) has introduced legislation that would call for a competitive-bid sale of the nearly 200-acre property, but only after demolition of all structures on the property, except for a state-owned air monitoring station.

Original demolition plans were put on hold last month after an Allentown developer, Nat Hyman, filed a lawsuit against the project. He withdrew a preliminary injunction against the state after it agreed to put the demolition on hold and give him 30 days’ notice if it restarted demolition plans.

Hyman called the legislation “clearly directed at my lawsuit.”

He has repeatedly expressed interest in buying the property and redeveloping it with its historic buildings intact and called the latest legislation a setback for his efforts.

“The only thing I really wanted to do is have them not demolish it,” he said. “I don’t care who buys it.”

The bill also terminates negotiations with TCA Properties of Doylestown, which had been awarded a contract to purchase the property at a negotiated rate after the demolition was complete.

Hyman had relied on a local ordinance in his original lawsuit, but the legislation introduced by Browne directly states that it would supersede any local ordinances, taking the wind out of Hyman’s lawsuit.

Hyman said he was unsure if there was anything he could do to continue his fight if Browne’s bill becomes law.

“I will be talking to my lawyer,” he said. “This is very disappointing.”

In addition to Hyman’s interest in the property and his subsequent lawsuit, there had been some public outcry over the demolition of the 107-year-old hospital on the property.

The property and its main building got attention after the release earlier this year of the M. Night Shyamalan movie “Glass,” which was filmed on the property in 2017.

Under the legislation, a committee would be established to review bids. On the committee would be Browne and state Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Allentown), who has supported the property’s demolition. The other two members would be the state secretary of General Services and a representative of the city of Allentown.

The committee would take bids, but consider them based on what is best for the community.

One thing that won’t be locating at the former state hospital is a casino.

The legislation bars the property from being sold for gaming uses.

Efforts to reach Browne and Schlossberg were not immediately successful.

Writer Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at swescoe@bridgetowermedia.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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