Lehigh Valley

Phoebe Ministries to buy Rodale corporate campus in Emmaus

Property to house senior living community

EMMAUS, Pa. - Phoebe Ministries has reached an agreement to buy the nearly 40-acre Emmaus campus once occupied by Rodale. 

"Phoebe was founded in 1903 here in Allentown," said president and CEO Scott Stevenson.

Phoebe provides housing, therapy and others services for seniors.

"It was founded by the Reformed Church," said Stevenson. "We started as a community-based service, so Phoebe trained deaconesses to go out to people's homes and provide care for them."

Eventually, there was such a need for care, they decided to treat people together in one place. 

"And they bought a farmhouse that was right on the corner, right across the street from us," said Stevenson from his office on Turner Street in Allentown. 

Since then, they've grown into seven counties in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, they announced a big deal.

"We've come to agreement on a sale of the land in Emmaus that belongs to the Rodale Group," Stevenson said. 

The site includes Rodale's main campus in Emmaus and its General Store.

 The plan is to convert the space into 78 apartments, and to enhance the walking and biking trails around it.

"A senior community really focused on health and wellness," explained Stevenson. "We want to maintain all the green space there as much as we can."

Rodale sold its publishing business to the media giant Hearst earlier this year, but the fate of the land had been unclear. 

CEO Maria Rodale reportedly called the sale "a win-win-win situation".

"It's a win for Phoebe, it's a win for Rodale, and it's a win for Emmaus…we feel exactly the same," said Stevenson.

Borough Manager Shane Pepe told WFMZ he's optimistic the deal will be good for Emmaus, which had counted Rodale as one of its largest employers for decades.

Stevenson agreed.

"Emmaus is a wonderful town. Lot of great things going on over there," he said. "It'll bring jobs, we don't have that defined number at this point, but it'll certainly bring jobs."

The sale is expected to be completed this year.

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