City consults HCC on blighted Goodman Building
The distressed property at 30-32 E. Third St., locally known as the Goodman Building, has been a source of contention between owner Alvin Kanofsky and city officials for several years. The City of Bethlehem, represented by Alicia Miller Karner, director of community and economic development, deputy director Amy Burkhart, and attorney Matthew Deschler, told the Bethlehem Historic Conservation Commission at the Feb. 27 meeting that the city had considered purchasing the property through eminent domain.
According to Karner, “We decided to use a 2008/2014 law called the ‘PA Conservator Act’ to gain custody of the property.” If successful, this allows the city to step in and bring the property into compliance, then the city will place liens on it for the costs of stabilizing the structure and bringing it up to code. Since the former furniture store, originally a Sears & Roebuck, is located in the historic district, Karner sought advice from the board on how to preserve its historic character.
Since historic officer Christine Ussler is involved in the request for proposal (RFP) process, she recused herself and was replaced by historic officer George Donovan, who sat in on the discussion.
A certificate of approval was granted pending final consultation by Ussler, the historic officer, for 202 W. Fourth St., owned by Lehigh University. Represented by Jim Vozar, owner of JVI, LLC, it was proposed to install window cling signage and for “re-skinning” the existing canopy for the new tenant, Barreform fitness studio. Since the canopy was considered too modern for the historic district, but had been installed before the BHCC was established, Chairman Philip Roeder suggested that the framework for the canopy be removed and the signage be applied to a wood panel framed by decorative moulding where a boarded-up transom had been. Vozar agreed to the suggestion. The building had been the home of the Globe-Times, then more recently, 48 Hours Video.
Benney and Carolyn Dormevil, representing Eva’s Bargain Boutique, received approval for a stickered sign to be applied to the main 9-foot by 6-foot storefront window at 412 E. Fourth St. Their proposed signage with white lettering and scroll design with soft teal vertical bands was approved unanimously, with the suggestion that the scrollwork end above and below the lettering in order to make it more readable. The property is owned by Mark Sabota.
Representing 3 W. Morton St., Jim Malin of Urban Neon Sign, Lighting & Graphics Co. was quickly approved by BHCC for removal of three existing stainless steel signs, patching and repairing the façade to its original condition and installation of three new signs for Saxby’s. “Well presented,” said board member Tony Silvoy of Malin’s proposal for 16-inch high by 99-inch wide ivory lettering for the coffee shop’s façade and rear, as well as a 30-inch circular blade sign with Saxby’s coffee cup and balloon logo. University Square Partnership owns the building.
The applicants for three other properties listed on the evening’s agenda, 407 E. Fourth St. (Penns and Needles), 129 W. Fourth St. (NYC Village Pizza) and 516 E. Fourth St. (Sin’s Fade and Shave Barber Shop) were no-shows.
The Bethlehem HCC is charged with the task of determining if new signs or other alterations to a building’s exterior would be an appropriate fit for the neighborhood in one of three designated historic districts. Hearings are regularly scheduled on the third Monday of the month. Since Presidents Day fell on the third Monday, the meeting was held the following week at the Banana Factory.
Obtaining a certificate of appropriateness is only a first step for business owners and residents in a designated historic district who wish to make alterations to a building’s exterior. The BHCC’s recommendations are later reviewed, then voted on by city council before any project is allowed to proceed.