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New development proposed for downtown Allentown

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: May 30 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: May 31 2013 06:48:27 PM CDT

Allentown's downtown revitalization is getting another boost with a big development announcement.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Allentown's downtown revitalization got another boost Friday with a big development announcement.

The latest transformation is set to take place along 7th Street. Developers tout the new, $30 million, privately funded development as the glue that will bind all the current downtown development together.

Included are two new buildings, one high-end retail; the other luxury apartments, set on 7th, directly across from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey arena.

"I think it's awesome," said Peter Lewness, the head of the 7th Street Main Street Program, which is aimed at revitalizing the main artery into downtown. "Working on a transition block, saying we have a neighborhood shopping district that works into higher end retail and ramping up closer to Hamilton."

The deal also includes doubling the size of the Linden Street parking garage, but what developers tout as the coup de grace is an expanded pedestrian-only arts walk, flanked by retail and restaurants. It will connect the hockey arena to the Allentown Art Museum.

"With us anchoring one end and the arena on the other end, it's a great opportunity for people coming to downtown for the first time to find out what else is here like the museum," said Chris Potash, of the Allentown Art Museum.

This latest deal is between Penrose Properties and City Center of the Lehigh Valley. which is currently building a 12-story office building near the site and has plans to revamp the 500 block of Hamilton, which includes reopening the Federal Grill.

All the new development is set to be completed by fall of 2014 to coincide with the opening of the hockey arena. Developers credit the Neighborhood Improvement Zone for getting the deals done.