Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem planners approve new Lehigh University development

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - With just a few questions, the Bethlehem Planning Commission approved a Lehigh University land development plan Thursday.

The plan outlines the building of two new on-campus and centrally located dormitory complexes in addition to the one already under construction across from Broughal Middle School.

Called 'Bridge West' the project will be completed in two phases. The first being three freshman/sophomore five-story apartment buildings for approximately 400 students. The buildings will be on the site of the relocated Kappa Delta fraternity, located south of University Drive at the entrance to Lehigh's Sayre Park.

The second phase of the 10-acre project involves the demolition of the Trembley Park student apartments, built in 1974, and replacing it with a complex offering two-bedroom and one bathroom units. The complex will house 315 students in total. 

According to owner/architect Vinicius Gorgati of Sasaki architects, since both projects will rest on South Mountain they will have entrances and exits leading to outdoor open spaces containing courtyards with views of the city.

He added the new Trembley Park will open up directly to the University Center building, however, this phase will not be completed for several more years.

Gorgati said both phases will be designed to offer spaces for out of classroom learning, gatherings with fellow students, and meetings with professors and teaching assistants.

With regard to traffic, the current Trembley Drive will become totally pedestrian. The current one-way East University Drive will become a two-way thoroughfare following some widening. 

Lehigh's own traffic and parking study on the project and how it will affect both the balance of the Lehigh community and city residents proved little regarding increased traffic due to the new dorms.

Construction on the first phase of dorms will begin next summer of 2019 or possibly in 2020, officials said.

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