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Million-dollar deal approved for old Colonial Theatre lot

Published On: Sep 24 2013 08:27:42 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 24 2013 10:23:23 PM CDT

ACIDA approves Colonial Theatre lot sale

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A million-dollar deal for what one official called "one of the hottest parcels in downtown Allentown" won an important stamp of approval Tuesday afternoon.

The Allentown Commercial and Industrial Development Authority signed off on an agreement of sale with developer J.B. Reilly's Center City Investment Corp. for the former Colonial Theatre lot in the 500 block of Hamilton Street.

The agreement for the .63-acre lot now must be approved by the Lehigh County commissioners and the city of Allentown.

Lehigh County, which owns 23.67 percent of the vacant property on Allentown’s Hamilton Street, stands to gain $236,700 from the sale, while the authority, which owns the remainder, will get $763,300, according to the agreement.

ACIDA approved the sale of Colonial Theatre lot to City Center Investment Corp. in July.

City Center Investment Corp., one of the prime developers in the area where a new hockey arena is being constructed, is planning a 110,000-square-foot, five-story building with a 112 underground parking spaces.

The proposed building, called Three City Center, will have retail space on the ground floor and office space on the other four floors.

As part of the agreement of sale, Center City Investment will spend an additional $200,000 for streetscape and other public improvements along the 500 block of Hamilton.

Those improvements are over and above any that would be required of Center City to get development plan approval, said ACIDA solicitor Jerome Frank, who negotiated the deal.

Also, the agreement requires Center City to make arrangements for 263 parking spaces either at 7th and Linden streets or at an existing community lot at 6th and Linden streets, Frank said.

ACIDA and the county will get even more money if City Center decides to make that proposed building taller than the five stories now proposed.

The developer would pay $5 per rentable square foot for anything over the proposed 110,000 square feet, Frank pointed out.
After the agreement of sale is signed, Center City will have 150 days to close, and either 90 or 120 days to begin construction, Frank said.

Should Center City not begin construction on time or abandon the project after it is started, ACIDA and the county would reacquire the property, Frank said, adding that, "If they can't make it work, it's still one of the hottest parcel in downtown Allentown."

In other business, the authority agreed to a joint marketing plan for two parcels that now make up a tract of land that used to be the former Hess's employee parking deck along North 9th Street.

Potential buyers will now be offered one or both of the tracts by Realtor Jane Schiff.

The deck was demolished three years ago, and ACIDA owns about a half-acre of the tract and All-America Graphics a slightly larger portion, said authority executive director Scott Unger.

All-America Graphics no longer needs the amount of space for its business, Unger said.

The agreement with Schiff will last for six months, the authority decided.