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New apartments for artists headed for Allentown

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 26 2012 10:45:27 PM CST
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Hoping to reduce the number of deteriorating vacant buildings in Allentown by one, the Zoning Hearing Board approved a special use application to convert a four-story old hat factory into four live/work units for artists Monday night. The vote was 3-0.

The approval granted for the building located at 146-148 N. 10th St. to developer John Mann does come with stipulations, chief among them that each of the four 2,500 square foot units must be divided equally between work and live space, that no noises, odors or vibrations remain inside the walls of the brick building and that an outside lit sign be made dark by 9 p.m.

“My goal is to create a space where artists can work and live,” Mann testified before the three-member body.

The building, 25 feet wide by 100 feet long, has some issues Mann said. At the top of the list is a leaking roof that will likely not be addressed until warmer weather gently rolls in next spring, the installation of a sprinkler system, not to mention a myriad of carpentry, electric and plumbing work.

Not everyone in attendance at Monday night’s hearing relished the prospects of the bohemian transformation of the old manufacturing warhorse.

“There’s not enough parking for the people who live around there now,” said Dan Hoffman, a resident of the 1000 block of Turner Street. “And you know rock musicians are artists” who Hoffman noted could enjoy the prospects of turning their amplifiers up to 10 in their enthusiasm to break on through to the other side.

And Hoffman’s testimony in opposition did have an impact on the board, hence the stipulations. Nevertheless the board deduced the prospect of refurbishing the old building into something new and potentially promising was too good to pass up.

“It’s a very reasonable use,” of the facility said board member Scott Unger.

“I’d rather have the building stabilized,” added board President Dan McCarthy.

Mann did not disclose expected renovation costs Monday night.