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Federal and state regulations halt live-work project for Allentown

By Jamie Peter, WFMZ.com Reporter, JPeter@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 13 2012 04:11:38 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 14 2012 07:43:49 AM CST
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

It was a project the Allentown Zoning Hearing Board unanimously approved but federal and state regulations have brought the plans to transform an old hat factory into a new artist-friendly to a halt.

Developer John Mann says he will no longer purchase property at 10th and Turner streets due to unexpected expenses required to make changes to the building for it to meet those regulations.

Last month, the Zoning Hearing Board approved the live-work community but because the building used to be an old hat factory, Mann needed to also apply for a "change of use" ordinance.

The "change of use" ordinance triggers the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Energy Efficiency Code (EEC) both of which would require costly renovations be made to the building.

Mann's vision was to create an artist-friendly community in the historic district of Allentown.  He says the modifications required to the building would be expensive and he would not be able to offer rental rates at a price he believes artists could afford.

Mann's project was the first to be approved by the city's Zoning Hearing Board under the new live-work ordinance.  The ordinance was passed in 2010.

The building would have included four stories of businesses with a working area in the front of the building and a living area for the business owner in the back.  Noise restrictions would have also been part of the plan.

Mann has a history of creating live-work developments.  He previously developed similar buildings in Jersey City, New Jersey.  He now lives in Allentown just blocks from the building he'd wanted to renovate.