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First phase of Allentown's Waterfront project set for October approval

By Randy Kraft, WFMZ.com Reporter, RKraft@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 26 2013 04:17:59 PM CDT

The Waterfront development unveiled

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

The first phase of the proposed Waterfront development along the Lehigh River in Allentown is scheduled for final approval by the city's planning commission at 12:15 p.m. Oct. 8 in City Hall.

The proposed project involves transforming the former Lehigh Structural Steel site beneath the Tilghman Street Bridge into a mixed use development of offices, commercial space and apartments, with parking decks.

Plans for the ambitious development won unanimous tentative approval from the  planning commission on July 9.

The development team -- Waterfront Redevelopment Partners LP -- hopes to begin construction of the $285-million project by next spring.

The Waterfront’s buildings will rise in two phases on  the 26-acre site below the western half of the bridge.

 In the first phase, buildings will be constructed south of that bridge. In the second, they will be constructed north of the bridge.

The developers have predicted it may take 7-10 years to complete the entire project, which includes nine buildings and two parking garages.

The project's impact on already-overloaded streets in that part of Allentown have been a concern of planners. But the developers say completion of the American Parkway bridge across the Lehigh River will alleviate some of that traffic by the end of next year, before their first building is completed and occupied.

In addition to street-level restaurants and shops, planned public amenities include a river walk along the Lehigh, plazas along the river at the ends of Furnace and Allen streets and a mile-and-a-quarter-long jogging path around the property.

The project is in one of Allentown's Neighborhood Improvement Zone sites that stretches along the west bank of the river.