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Valley center could get a new downtown

A catalyst for Catasauqua.

A catalyst for Catasauqua.

A long-dormant industrial site could be a springboard for creating a new downtown in the Lehigh County borough, spurring future investment in a region that’s strategically located yet often overlooked.

Known as Iron Works, the 13-acre site of a former factory between the Pine Street Bridge and Willow Street abuts the Lehigh Canal and the Delaware and Lehigh River Trail. It could offer prime space for an economic rebirth, with the property’s central Lehigh Valley location and walkable amenities.

The borough owns the site, having bought it two years ago from FLSmidth, an engineering company that was the last occupant and had moved to Allentown in 2006. Now, Catasauqua officials are full-speed ahead in efforts to lure developers for what would be a massive mixed-use project.

Simply, Catasauqua wants to bring back an economically productive use to a site that’s been empty for nearly a decade. Iron Works could include residential units, apartments or townhouses, and about 30,000 square feet of retail or commercial space.

“What we are looking for is a mixed-use project,” said Vincent Smith, council president for Catasauqua. “We feel it’s going to be the most sustainable to our community. We have the density to pull it off.”

At one square mile and with a population of about 6,400, the borough should be a place where people can walk to buy groceries or work at retail shops, Smith said.

“We want to have goods and services in our municipality,” he said.

Spillman Farmer Architects of Bethlehem created a master plan for Catasauqua that included the relocation of its municipal facilities on the former FLSmidth property.

To anchor the site and attract development, the borough seeks a 38,000-square-foot complex for a fire station, police station and municipal office.

Brian Pedersen
Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108.

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