Public food markets are proving to be a popular prospect.
With Easton’s public food market up and running, one in Quakertown under construction and another in downtown Allentown set to open next month, Bethlehem looks to be
Lou Pektor, the developer behind Riverport Market in South Bethlehem, is planning to transform the shuttered Starters building into a public food market.
The market, at 17 W. 2nd St., is set to open in the spring.
Before it was turned into Starters, which closed in 2013, the building once served as a finishing mill for Bethlehem Steel. It covers 24,000 square feet of open space.
Kim Culver, project manager for Riverport Market, said the market will house 35 vendors, a demo kitchen, anchor restaurant and brew tasting room, in a space with a clean, urban, industrial vibe.
“It’s such a large space, we had to come up with a concept that works well,” Culver said.
She described the market as being more along the scale of the Reading Public Market in Philadelphia with a plan to offer diverse, ethnic foods.
The developer has not secured any tenants yet, but Culver said she has several people interested in the restaurant space.
Starters is inside Riverport, an enclosed condominium complex that includes a gym, Steel Fitness. Located near the Fahy Bridge at the gateway to South Bethlehem, the property is a few steps away from the Banana Factory and a short distance from Lehigh University, ArtsQuest and Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino.
Though the developer selected Mohawk Contracting of Upper Macungie Township as the contractor for the project, no architect has been chosen yet. Culver said the developer has met with three local architects that have done similar or larger projects.
Construction should begin shortly after the developer chooses the architect, she added.
The market is seeking vendors and sponsors, with vendor and merchant spaces ranging in size from 120 to 500 square feet. The market will be open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with plans for the restaurant and brew tasting room to be open later.
In addition, the market will offer parking in the onsite garage.
Though the project received a $750,000 state grant toward construction, Culver did not provide an estimated total construction cost.