“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.”


What would you like to see on the 700 block of N. New?

logo14th in a series of posts about 11 and 15 W. Garrison St.logo

Garrison St.

So this particular case for rezoning is dead.

But there will be new construction of the entire 700 block of N. New St.

Keep in mind the rendering pictured above presented to Council for the rezoning considerations.

Is that or something like it what we would like to see there on the 700 block of N. New St.?

There can be a couple ways to approach answering that question.

First of all, Councilwoman Crampsie Smith’s comments that we talked about last time invite us to ask if apartments are the most desirable way to go.

A good question.

Several days ago, for instance, Dana Grubb made this apropos comment on a post here on Gadfly: “We certainly don’t need more rental units in Bethlehem at the moment with everything proposed. . . . A row of townhouses/condos that offer home ownership opportunities is much more preferable for this location in my opinion. It maintains and adds to the existing residential streetscape.”

And remember that Councilman Reynolds seemed to say that whatever we get there from this owner, it will mean more feet on the street.

So, how about a row of townhouses on the 700 N. New block.?

Gadfly wonders how many there could be in that space.

And is there a Green Eye-Shade follower savvy enough to provide even ballpark figures on the difference to the owner in income and to the City in taxes if townhouses were constructed instead of a mixed use retail/residential building with 70 apartment units?

Gadfly is channeling Councilwoman Van Wirt — He needs data!!!!

Second, if we are to have something close to the mixed use retail/residential building with 70 apartment units as proposed and rendered above, does it have to look like THAT!

Another good question, Gadfly thinks.

Gadfly wants to go back and revisit the 4-part series of posts on thoughtful planning by Kim Carrell-Smith (beginning here) and think about architecture that is blended in rather than stuck in.

And that would be for the Townhouses and/or the retail/residential building.

Gadfly listens to the public voices — and absorbs them.

Here he’s channeling Mr. Vergilio at the September 17 meeting.

How does the building proposed in the rendering fit in the neighborhood?

To Gadfly, it doesn’t.

To Gadfly it looks rather conventional, something that would be functional almost anywhere, but not special, not unique to Bethlehem.

Gadfly multi-channels.

He’s also haunted by this comment by Dan Church from a month ago as well:

“Yet my distress is construction of an apartment block that seems more likely to mirror a mini cruise ship than iconic architecture: entirely inappropriate for such impact. (But the city has no jurisdiction over architectural style.)”

The city has no jurisdiction over architectural style.

A while back Gadfly asked, “Who’s in charge of beauty in Bethlehem?”

Are we dependent on the kindness of strangers?


Festival UnBound
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October 4-13