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Allentown zoners OK plan for Liberty Street convenience store

By Tom De Martini, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 21 2014 10:10:47 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 22 2014 01:25:09 PM CDT
Proposed building to replace Campus Shop at 23d at Linden
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A Liberty Street convenience store will be remodeled into a combination restaurant and storage facility after garnering the blessing of the Allentown Zoning Hearing Board Monday night.

Zoners, who heard arguments concerning The Campus Shop at 2301-2303 Liberty Street last month, granted a special use application filed by the OSBATT Development, LLC by a 2-1 margin.

Chairman Daniel McCarthy and Juan Camacho voted in favor of the application with Michael Engle casting a dissenting vote.

Zoning Hearing Board member R. Scott Unger did not vote.

McCarthy said the proposed 1,695 square foot restaurant is a very low intensity use, would generate significant walk-in traffic and not adversely affect the neighborhood.

Conditions for proposed restaurant include that it will not serve liquor, will close by 10 p.m., have a maximum load of 30 patrons, and would not utilize the roof. Deliveries leaving the restaurant by car are also not allowed under the conditions.

Jason Lund, of OSBATT Development, said he has talked to five potential food service operators, but does not have a restaurant tenant for the building, located across from Muhlenberg College.

Lund said the walk-in storage business in the building's basement will hold high school-sized lockers as a convenience pay service for college students.

The top floor will sport a remodeled four-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment, said Lund, who is in the process of purchasing the building from its current owners.

Owners of the nearby Tavern on Liberty, at 2246 Liberty Street, testified as objectors last month.

Peruvian eatery slated for 7th Street

Another restaurant, this one serving Peruvian-style food, is slated to open in the burgeoning Seventh Street district in the downtown area.

Allentown zoners granted a parking variance to owner John Lewnes for the storefront property at 513 North 7th Street on Monday night.

Lewnes has an agreement in principle to lease the first-floor storefront to Sylvia Cayllahua, who plans to open a Peruvian restaurant in a 1,700 square foot space. Construction is expected to commence in June, he said.

The restaurant space is designed to hold eight tables with a 32 patron maximum. It will have no liquor license and is allowed to operate between 6 a.m. and midnight.

Lewnes said he's owned the building for three years and has had difficulty finding a tenant due to the lack of significant parking.

The storefront, which is located in a limited business/residential and Traditional Neighborhood Development Overlay District, only had two off-street parking spaces instead of the requisite nine.

Zoners granted the parking relief to allow the proposed restaurant.

The building also has a duplex apartment on the second and third floors.