Bethlehem Press

Monday, December 11, 2017

Parking has spot saved for Sands’ lot

Monday, September 25, 2017 by Nate Jastrzemski njastrzemski@tnonline.com in Local News

Amid the continually haphazard parking on the Southside, Bethlehem Parking Authority is looking to build another car park near downtown, at Third and Polk streets near the Sands Casino. However, the Sands owns the lot and much of the surrounding area, and its relationship with the city has been cooler of late, starting in March when it became public knowledge Las Vegas Sands was in serious talks to sell the entire project.

The lot discussed is a footnote in the grand scheme of things, but the authority has already developed plans for a garage and is eager to build.

Southside Task Force Chair Roger Hudak said in an email communications with LVS is becoming more difficult as all development is now going through Las Vegas, but a $1.5 million grant to begin the construction process will be lost if it doesn’t happen soon.

Mayor Bob Donchez recently asked the BPA for an update on the lot, and a memo from

Solicitor Jim Broughal was circulated, gaining much attention.

In the memo, Broughal said BPA has already undertaken a feasibility study for the 1.62 acre lot but cannot move on the property until it negotiates with Sands. An appraisal in June placed the lot’s value at $1.96 million, and Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority appraised it at $2 million.

Broughal said the lot is at the western portion of the Sands-owned land and lies outside the master plan, which may now also be at a standstill if a sale of the casino is likely. “That’s why we’re hopeful we can do this,” he said in a phone interview. But he said Bethlehem is a blip on Sands’ huge holdings and his hope is to get somebody’s attention in Las Vegas just to let the purchase take place.

A last resort for the BPA would be to file for eminent domain of the lot. Broughal said the LVS may file an objection, but that the primary point of eminent domain is that condemned land is recovered by municipalities for public use. So long as the BPA offers just compensation for it, the project can’t be stopped, though LVS can choose to fight about the amount for years to come.

Broughal was adamant that eminent domain was the last option they are considering, and hopes LVS will make a deal for the lot.

Hudak said, “It is imperative that the garage is built. Parking is already at a premium down there for [Northampton Community College] and the forecast development down there.”

An inquiry to the mayor’s office asking about the city’s relationship with the Sands and other options under consideration for lots the casino may no longer have use for was unanswered.