Armory apartment project ‘bridges gap’
Mayor Bob Donchez announced Peron Development as the selected developer of the Bethlehem Armory at a July 21 press conference held at the historic armory, located at 301 Prospect Ave. in West Bethlehem.
Hosted by the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority, the conference addressed Peron’s intended plans for the 27,000 square feet of currently unused space.
“This proposal, which includes converting the Bethlehem Armory into 70 apartments,” Donchez said, “is an exciting project that will bridge the gap between two important neighborhoods in Bethlehem: our historic city center and historic Prospect Avenue.”
Tony Hanna, executive director of the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority, followed Donchez’s introduction to the proposal by summarizing the developer selection process which began in November 2015.
Having reviewed 10 proposals prior to choosing Peron Development, Hanna concluded, “We believe that [Peron’s] team is the right choice for this important project.”
Peron Development’s team will include Boyle Construction, USA Architects and Noble Preservation Services, according to former Mayor John Callahan.
Callahan elaborated upon the team’s focus on developing the property without altering the qualities of the existing building.
“The challenge in converting the armory into housing really lies in maintaining the historic character of the original building as well as creating an addition that sort of seamlessly connects with the existing building as well as relates to the neighborhood as a whole,” Callahan said.
In order to achieve this, the team is aiming to use materials consistent with the existing building for any new additions, which are not to exceed the height of the original structure.
“Overall, the vision for the armory is to preserve the significant details of the building and working to address the neighborhood,” Callahan said.
With the vision to enhance both downtown Bethlehem and the surrounding area with the conversion of the armory into a residential space, Callahan predicts millenials and empty nesters to be target audiences for the apartments.
Following Callahan’s conclusion, Hanna reassured residents in attendance concerned about the predicted narrowing of 2nd Avenue that there will be plenty of opportunity for citizen input before the redevelopment begins.
The Redevelopment Authority Board meeting convened immediately after the conference, although the focus remained primarily on Resolution Number 1432, which dealt with the sale of the armory.
Hanna repeated the steps involved in the selection process, adding that the selection committee decided early in the process that the space should be used for residential purposes.
“Some of the proposals were predominantly more commercial than residential, so we narrowed it down to four primarily residential,” Hanna explained.
The board approved Resolution Number 1432 and predicts closing for the $10 million redevelopment project to take place in 2017.
Resolution Numbers 1433, 1434 and 1435 were also approved by the close of the meeting.