“Is there enough demand for seven new apartment projects in the City of Bethlehem?”

logo15th in a series of posts about 11 and 15 W. Garrison St.logo
and 700 block N. New

Garrison St.

Remember that the re-zoning of 11 and 15 W. Garrison is, for now, dead.

But the construction of a probably 5-story, 70-some unit apartment building — rendered above — on the 700 block of N. New St. remains quite a bit alive.

5-story did Gadfly say? At City Council last Tuesday Gadfly #2 Bill Scheier said that he’s seen talk of 12 stories.

Alas and alack!

Councilmen Callahan and Reynolds warned the Garrison residents that they could win the rezoning battle, which they did, and still end up with an offensive or even greater offensive project.

Which they might, Scheirer suggests.

Scheirer counts 7 new large apartment projects on deck: 4th and Vine, Wilbur Mansion, the Armory, Skyline West, Boyd Theater, 548 N. New, and this one on the 700 block of N. New.

And he asks:

“Is there enough demand for seven new apartment projects in the City of Bethlehem?”

A question you’ve seen yours truly Gadfly-double zero raise recently as well.

Especially in the context of the need for affordable housing.

Suppose the demand wasn’t great enough, Scheirer asks, which of the seven projects is expendable? Which is most destructive of the City’s character?

The 700 block of N. New.

And he suggests rezoning that block to CL to eliminate the project because the present CB zoning there that permits a large structure is “like a middle finger sticking up into the residential area.”


3 thoughts on ““Is there enough demand for seven new apartment projects in the City of Bethlehem?”

  1. Ed, There is a second issue with the volume of rental units proposed throughout the city, and that is the destabilization of neighborhoods brought on by increasing rental units versus owner occupied units. Transient residents do not have the same investment in community that home owners do. A ratio of 70% to 30%, owned vs. rented housing units, used to be ideal and 65% to 35% was acceptable. Tilting that equation in the other direction will create issues throughout Bethlehem similar to the kinds of issues Bethlehem has been dealing with in neighborhoods surrounding Lehigh University. Over time the conversion of owner occupied homes to rentals in Southside neighborhoods has made code enforcement quite challenging and affected the quality of life in that area for decades. Dana


  2. I’m a renter (and have been in the same location for 12 years, so not a ‘transient’) but I understand Dana’s concerns – and I’m right with the Gadfly’s concerns about ‘what’s too much?’. Especially if they are market rate, and not affordable. For myself, I’m in ‘too much’ of a rental unit but cannot afford to move to something smaller because the rent would be much higher. As one person I’m taking up space where a family could be. I would love to see the City explore other kinds of options, like tiny homes allowed in residential neighborhoods, and more small, affordable multi-unit townhouse/apt units – also sprinkled into neighborhood pockets.

  3. Entrepreneurs will not build affordable housing. This is America. They will build projects that make them money. Let’s get real. Local government will have to drive affordable housing, or it won’t happen. Wishful thinking does not work.

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