2 W. Market St.: “impassioned pleas from both sides” (1)

(1st in a series of posts on 2 W. Market St.)

It’s all about neighborhoods on Gadfly these days, it seems. Northside 2027 and the Rose Garden for the good, Airbnb and 2 W. Market for the troublesome.

This 2 W. Market is similar to the Airbnb issue in that it is both about the Northside Historical District and about keeping it residential.

This issue started at least as far back as 2016.

Daryl Nerl, “Bethlehem zoners hear impassioned pleas from both sides on fate of historic building.” Morning Call, April 28, 2016.

IMG_0822“A protracted fight over the future of one corner in Bethlehem’s historic district resumed in the form of more than four hours of testimony, questioning and impassioned pleas in front of the city’s Zoning Hearing Board Wednesday night. At issue is whether a private asset management firm [Herman Riz/Quadrant Wealth] can relocate its office in a historic property at the northwest corner of North New and West Market streets.”

Wow! Gadfly is sorry he missed this one! 4 hours of testimony, then the Board deliberated 5 hours more!

The argument against Rij was the usual fear of a precedent to allow more commercial property on a residential block.

2 westInteresting to Gadfly, those in favor of the plan saw Rij investing $725,000 in rehabilitating and restoring the property “in a way that reflects its historic significance.”

Therefore, the argument for the value of history on both sides!

The neighborhood fear is apartments, of which 7 would be allowed on the property: “We do not want to see this property become apartments,” one witness said.

The situation is muddied and complicated by the fact that the parcel has 2 commercial buildings on the New St. side. (not well shown in the picture above)

Daryl Nerl, “Historic Market Street home gets zoning OK to become office.” Morning Call, June 3, 2016.

Rij wins.

“Herman Rij and his partners at Quadrant Private Wealth may now begin executing a plan — more than two years in the making — to invest more than $700,000 in the property at 2 W. Market St. and 511 N. New St. and make it the company’s new home office.”

“Though the property carries two addresses and exists on a single deed for less than 8,300 square feet, it includes three buildings: the historic home at 2 W. Market, a carriage house and a commercial building — a pair of green storefronts at 511 N. New, which was originally built in 1820 as a brass foundry where instruments, including the famous Moravian trombones had once been manufactured.”

“Under the terms of the board’s approval, Quadrant must ‘maintain a character and nature of a residence’ during renovations of 2 W. Market. The entire property must also be maintained as a professional office for a ‘single entity,’ with a limited number of employees.”

“At an April hearing that lasted nearly five hours, [Charles] Lyman said Quadrant’s plan to renovate and restore the home, which was built in 1849, was the city’s best opportunity to preserve and protect the streetscape on that corner. It seemed unlikely, according to hearing testimony, that any prospective residential owner would be able to pour the required resources in a restoration of a 167-year-old building that had seen better days.”

Rij wins. Rij wins for now. To be continued.

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