Lehigh Valley

Planners updated on Five City Center, Lafayette College projects

Traffic study requested

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) Thursday heard reviews and associated planner's comments on development projects, one of which the commission considers of regional significance.

LVPC Director of Community Planning Amanda Raudenbush said in a letter to Allentown planning director Doug Stewart, regarding City Center Lehigh Valley's Five City Center Office Tower, to be located at the corner of West Hamilton and South Eighth streets, that the project conforms to the Lehigh County comprehensive plan.

Developer City Center will raze three buildings to make way for a 13-story office tower containing 246,500 square feet of office space and 4,500 feet dedicated to retail on the ground level.

Additonally, the plan includes a new plaza area, a green roof with swimming pool, mid-rise apartments and a lot consolidation including street-level townhouse style residences. 

Raudenbush stated that the project redevelops existing buildings in an urban development zone and will be served by existing water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure. She pointed out that due to the project's location near compatible land uses and existing infrastructure, the proposed development minimizes negative impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.

However, she remarked that the development as presented to the LVPC will result in 2,000 vehicle traffic trips per day after the demolition of the current buildings; therefore, the LVPC requests a traffic impact study be conducted in the neighborhood.

In regard to Easton's Lafayette College proposed dormitory expansion into the adjacent McCartney Street neighborhood, the LVPC said that, while the city's proposed zoning ordinance amendment is mostly consistent with regional policies, dormitory development should be retained as a special exception in the zoning code and not be permitted as a use by right. 

The commission also found the reasons for and calculation of alternate residential parking to be reasonable, but recommended additional parking lots be identified if commercial uses are determined to generate excess traffic in the area.

Easton City Council will conduct a public hearing on the matter on March 8 in council chambers and determine its next course of action thereafter.

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