Bethlehem received the backing of Northampton County Council Thursday night for a state-backed revitalization program that, if approved, could bring more than $350 million and hundreds of jobs to the city over the next five years.
By unanimous vote, council signed off on a resolution supporting Bethlehem’s application for acceptance into the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone program run by the state.
Only two cities are expected to be selected, possibly by the end of the year, in this round of the program, which funnels tax payments from businesses in the zones back into the zones to foster economic development.
Bethlehem wants to use the money to redevelop the former 54-acre Bethlehem Steel headquarters, the 21-story skyscraper called Martin Tower that has been eyed for years for conversion into condominiums or apartments, among other uses, all to no avail.
Bethlehem has also proposed renovating the #2 Machine Shop, a huge building on the old Bethlehem Steel property. Plans also include building a regional convention center, and a new data center on 30 acres of brownfield property.
The resolution supporting the city’s application will be sent to the Northampton County delegation of the General Assembly in Harrisburg, the Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania secretary of the budget and the state secretary of revenue.