Lehigh Valley

Apartments in downtown Easton help change landscape

EASTON, Pa. - Easton city leaders are trying to woo people to the downtown, not just to visit, but to live. Along with new restaurants and other development, more apartments are opening up, and they are going fast.

Developers like the fact more people are moving from the suburbs to the city, and now there is plenty of living space downtown, with more buildings on the way.

The landscape in Easton may look the same, but the inside of some buildings is changing. The former Express Times building is going to be a new police station and school thanks to the vision of ALT Realty.

Closer to Centre Square, a new restaurant is currently underway. So is a concert venue, and the 1-6 flats, developed by brothers Garrett and Brandon Benner, above the Wells Fargo building on Third Street. It features 19 one-bedroom apartments and nine two-bedroom apartments.

"There's a lot of organic growth in Easton," said developer Brandon Benner. "Incredible restaurants, the Easton public market, the retail down here. There's a lot happening, and it's an exciting place to be."

The housing boon marks the next phase in the city's growth. Once the new police station is complete, ALT Realty will be working on building condos at the old Heritage Lanes location.

The company already has views of the city from the fourth floor and figures people ready to downsize would be the perfect buyers

"I'd love to live in town, but I'm not sure, for tax purposes or size-wise, do I just want to go into an apartment?" said Pete Reinke, vice president of operations at ALT realty. "Well, the condos work."

Those are just places to live. What about those wanting to visit? The city is working on that, as well. A new request for proposal has been issued by city council for a hotel study.

"We need another hotel," said Easton Mayor Sal Panto, "so the hotel will be in the downtown. We believe that we want an upscale hotel."

Panto said the city may be getting another business needed in the city. Currently, officials said they are close to locking down a location for a grocery store in the west ward. Panto said negotiations are close, but not ready to announce yet.

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