Lehigh Valley

Arcade museum's new home wins zoning approval in Allentown

Plans call for the museum to be open from noon to 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Like a returning pinball, an Easton man was back before the Allentown Zoning Hearing Board Monday night seeking a variance for a new location for a proposed arcade museum.

Three years ago, Joseph Shiller received zoning approval to create an arcade museum at Allentown's Pioneer Building, a former fire hall and social club at 701 N. Eighth St. But that location turned out to be too small for Shiller's collection of predigital, electromechanical games, he told the board.

At 9,000 square feet, his new location, the vacant St. Nick's social club at 170-172 Allen St., has ample space to display his private collection of pinball, horse-racing and shuffle ball games, plus a kitchen and about 25 on-site parking spaces.

The board approved his request by unanimous vote.

The museum will be open from noon to 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Shiller said he expects church and social groups, families and companies to use the museum and pay a fee to play the games.

"Allentown is known as the pinball city," Shiller said, noting the popularity of the annual PinFest at the Allentown Fairgrounds. "This is an excellent location to do this operation, a good draw for tourism and family oriented."

A 6-by-14-foot illuminated sign was requested on the application, but the board asked Shiller to erect a smaller sign that would be more in keeping with a museum rather than an arcade and denied the request for a vinyl banner on the Grant Street side of the building.

Board member Scott Unger, who made the motion to approve Shiller's request, said the proposal was reasonable and less intense than the brick building's former use as a social club.

In other action, the board unanimously approved Hope Mennonite Fellowship Inc.'s request to use the lower level of its church at 701-705 Saint John St. for an elementary and secondary school for up to 15 students.

Jay Horst, a pastor representing the church, said the congregation is very small and can't afford to purchase a separate school building. He said the church would be open for school 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays from the end of August to mid-May, and most of the children would be dropped off by their parents.

"It's our desire as a church to be a good asset to the community," Horst said, adding that no renovations would be needed to the church building to accommodate classes. A nine-space parking lot at the rear of the church was also approved as part of the application.

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