HARB No COAs issued at April hearing
The Historical and Architectural Review Board issued no certificates of appropriateness for two proposed projects at their April 4 meeting in the city hall Rotunda.
The board took no action on Jeffrey Parks’ two-part application to demolish a brick house and free standing garage at 143 W. Broad St. to prepare the property for new construction. Parks, accompanied by architect Antonio Fiol-Silva, said the demolition work is necessary to make way for the entrance drive and plaza for a new five-story apartment building with a parking deck located partially underneath. The new high-rise would overlook Route 378 on one side of the hill and Monocacy Creek on the other.
Historic Officer George Donovan said, “The house was built in 1905 and was part of the western expansion of the city. The house was once the first house when entering west Bethlehem. The westerly neighbors were removed in the 1970s when Route 378 was constructed, thus isolating this property from the former neighborhood at the time of the survey. The house was considered ‘contributing.’”
Parks and Fiol-Silva argued that the existing building is not unique to the Historic District and new housing is needed to support nearby downtown businesses. They also mentioned that moving the house to a vacant site on Second Avenue was not an option, as it would harm too many mature trees along the route.
Of the opinion the existing house could be restored and, despite its isolation, fits into the neighborhood, Connie Glagola suggested making it a part of the project design. Diana Hodgson asked the applicants if they had considered demolition costs versus rehab costs.
When Chairman Fred Bonsall asked for public comment on the proposal, Martin Romeril questioned if there had been any archeological surveys conducted in or planned for the area to determine if there were any Revolutionary War era soldier grave sites located there.
The applicants were encouraged to reconsider tearing down the buildings and adapt them to new uses before returning to the board. The property is owned by Skyline West, LLC.
A proposal by Seth Cornish, representing Christmas City Spirits, for outdoor lighting adjacent to the Sun Inn at 564 Main St., was turned down by HARB as incomplete. Although Cornish brought a lantern fixture and cable light samples proposed for installation over paved areas of the North Green to the hearing, board members said they had unanswered questions regarding height and number of lights, as well as how they would be supported. The historic stone building is owned by the Sun Inn Preservation Association.
The Historical and Architectural Review Board meets the first Wednesday of every month to review all exterior changes proposed to buildings in the Bethlehem Historic District north of the Lehigh River. When a proposed project receives a certificate of appropriateness (COA) from the board, applicants must wait for City Council to vote on it before proceeding.