BETHLEHEM HCC Advice sought for Goodman Building
Director of City of Bethlehem Community and Economic Development Alicia Miller Karner and Michael Metzger from Alloy 5 Architecture provided the Bethlehem Historic Conservation Commission with preliminary plans for renovating the deteriorating Goodman Building at the March 19 meeting in the Rotunda. They also sought input from the commission on a proposed 5-story masonry-clad building for the adjoining vacant lot once occupied by the South Bethlehem National Bank.
The empty 3-story, 3-bay, cast stone and brick structure at 30 E. Third St. had been home to Goodman Furniture. The circa 1910 building originally was built for the C.P. Hoffman & Co. department store, then later occupied by Sears, Roebuck & Co. A fire in 1982 destroyed the adjoining structure at 32 E. Third St., leaving the eastern interior masonry wall of the surviving building exposed to the elements. Recently, the city was appointed conservator for the distressed property.
The co-applicants proposed restoration of the Goodman Building included reinforcing the flooring and roofing structure, as well as installing a new roof and replacing rotted trim with PVC trim to match the existing trim. Prior to the hearing, the BHCC provided a list of architectural details, for the city and developer to consider preserving.
At five stories, several on the board and a some residents in the audience were uncomfortable with the height of the proposed new construction for the vacant lot. The first floor of the proposed new structure would align with the existing building and would be available as commercial space, with four stories of residential apartments above, capped by a mansard roof.
Board members Arnold Trauptman and Seth Cornish expressed a preference for the new structure to not exceed four stories. Metzger replied that at less than five stories, the project was economically unfeasible. He also passed around vintage photographs of the streetscape that showed the nearby South Bethlehem Municipal Building had been taller than both the Goodman Building and it’s neighbor. A strip mall now occupies the site of the old municipal complex.
Karner said, “The amount of money necessary to rehabilitate the Goodman Building is excessive,” as it is in such bad shape that barrels that had been on the third floor to catch rainwater had fallen through to the first floor. She explained the new construction needs to financially support the project.
Vice Chairman Gary Lader and Beth Starbuck opined that the proposed structure seemed to work well with the Goodman Building. Starbuck said, “It has a relationship to its neighbor that’s not outrageous.”
When asked for public comment, Bethlehem resident Dana Grubb said, “Wow! The design of the building is absolutely fantastic,” although he expressed concerns about the height. Bill Scheirer, another resident, simply remarked, “I just wouldn’t want to see the Flat Iron Building replicated all over the city.”
Karner and Metzger expressed appreciation for the board’s assessment of the project. They promised to later return with more detailed architectural information and some general financial assessments for a four-story versus five-story building in pursuit of a certificate of appropriateness.
Michael Renneisen and Siso-Obd Torres from Lehigh Immigration Law received approval to retain a recently installed 24-inch-high by 30-inch-wide stainless steel sign at 700 Evans St. with the stipulation that a secondary sign be installed to frame the original with a pinstripe border. The sign mounted to the stucco wall at the recessed corner entrance features the company logo in blue and beige over “The Office Of: Attorney Michael Renneisen 700 Evans Street” in all black caps with a web site listed below. Renneisen was advised to return to seek approval for his existing window lettering. The circa 1940 two-story commercial brick building is owned by GSE Realty Inc. and home to other businesses.
A COA was granted to Kevin Harayda from Fastsigns for a proposed storefront sign for Bethlehem Pharmacy at 817 E. Fourth St. The 24-inch-high by 96-inch-wide aluminum composite material sign with “Bethlehem Pharmacy RX Inc.” in capital letters with the company logo in dark green and dark blue over a warm white or ivory background is to also include a pinstripe border in either of those darker colors. Board members encouraged the sign maker to remove a non-conforming street number plaque above the window, if feasible, and paint the number on an existing transom. Harayda represented business owner Pradeep Rayapudi at the hearing for the circa 1915 masonry building.
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.
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.