Senate passes bill calling for demolition of Allentown State Hospital

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

The Pennsylvania Senate voted 49-0 to approve a bill sponsored by state Sen. Pat Browne (R-Allentown) that calls for the competitive-bid sale of the Allentown State Hospital property on Hanover Avenue in Allentown and the demolition of nearly all of the structures on it.

The legislature voted previously on the buildings’ demolition and the sale of the nearly 200-acre property to a buyer, TCA Properties of Doylestown. But a lawsuit from Allentown developer Nat Hyman challenged the original bill and the deal with TCA fell through.

The new bill states that it supersedes any local ordinance, which was the crux of the legal argument against the original bill.

It also requires that the buildings be demolished before the property is put up for bid.

The demolition of the 107-year old hospital has been a source of controversy. Not only did Hyman file a lawsuit, but local preservation groups were able to gather thousands of signatures asking for the structures to be saved.

The property, which has been vacant and on the market for nearly 10 years, was recently used in filming of the M. Night Shyamalan movie “Glass,” which generated extra attention to the fate of structures there.

But state Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Allentown), told Lehigh Valley Business in a previous interview that he and other members of the legislature felt that demolishing the buildings was the best way to turn the property into a developable tract of land that will benefit the city and the Lehigh Valley.

He noted that part of the proposed legislation puts a guiding hand over the future of the property.

A committee would be established to review bids.

On the committee would be Browne and Schlossberg, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services and a representative of the city of Allentown.

That committee would take bids, but consider them based on what is best for the community and not just the highest dollar amount.

The bill now moves to the state House for a vote.

 

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 stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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