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Easton looks to revitalize buildings near city gateway

By Kevin Lechiski, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 12 2012 10:52:29 PM CST

New life may soon be breathed into two longtime vacant buildings in significant disrepair located near one of the city's gateways.

City Council on Wednesday night held a public hearing on an application by the Easton Redevelopment Authority seeking a $500,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to bolster plans to revitalize the dilapidated structures at 118 and 120 Northampton Street, a short distance from the Delaware River Free Bridge.

The authority, which currently owns the property, is looking to use the grant money as a low-interest loan to appointed re-developer Post Road Management, who would in turn would pay back the loan to the authority and ultimately take ownership of the site.

Borko Milosev, principal of the Allentown-based Post Road Management, said his firm is planning to renovate the structures -- totaling 20,000 square feet -- into first floor retail space and up to 12 apartments on the second, third and fourth floors. If the grant proposal comes to fruition, Milosev said his firm may opt to instead construct six-to-nine "higher-end" apartments on the upper floors. The redevelopment plans call for retaining the buildings' historic characteristics.

Milosev said he is hopeful to begin construction in the spring. Once started, he anticipates construction to last between nine and 12 months.

Milosev said that while the buildings are in substantial disrepair, he is confident his firm has "the technical wherewithal" to complete the project. Milosev says he has been involved in numerous historical redevelopment projects in urban areas.

City Council members expressed enthusiasm about the estimated $2 million project.

"I greatly look forward to seeing something there; it's been vacant for almost 30 years," Councilwoman Elinor Warner said.

Easton Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Gretchen Longenbach said that the state grant being sought would -- in addition to bolstering the 118-120 Northampton Street project -- provide a revolving loan fund for future city redevelopment efforts.