City planners are recommending two parcels of land be rezoned -- one to allow a food store to be built, the other to revitalize a troubled apartment complex.
Both rezoning requests were unanimously approved Tuesday by the Allentown Planning Commission. The recommendations will now be sent to city council.
The planners said a 3.74-acre parcel in the 2800 block of West Emaus Avenue should be rezoned so a Dollar General Store can be built on the property.
The land is currently zoned for industrial use, but land owner Ed Keller said two different brokers have unsuccessfully tried to find an occupant for the last decade. A portion of the land is used as a tire warehouse, he said.
Steve Banko, owner of the nearby Emmaus Avenue Laundromat, called the proposed Dollar General Store "a very complementary business," and said people living in the neighborhood were "excited" when they heard the store was being planned.
The planners also approved rezoning an almost 16-acre tract in the 300 block of River Road to allow more people to live in 10 apartment buildings that are being refurbished by Diversified Realty Advisers of Summit, N.J.
Managing partner Nick Minoia said Diversified bought the partially completed apartment complex in February, after it had been vacant for two years.
Attorney Joseph Fitzpatrick said Diversified needs the rezoning so a total of 36 more units can be added to the existing 200. He said the rezoning would "resurrect what has become an eyesore and a hazard on the East Side."
He said Diversified would add extra parking spaces, a gym and fitness center, and a community center.
Minoia said the complex's two-bedroom apartments will rent for $1,200 a month, and one-bedroom apartments for $950 a month.
There were a couple of light moments during a mostly dry discussion.
After Fitzpatrick handed out before and after photos to the planners to show them some of the work Diversified had already done on the apartments, planner Richard Button asked, "Did you photo-shop these?"
Fitzpatrick replied, "I got them from Architectural Digest."
A bit later, after Minoia described the poor condition of the apartment buildings when he bought them, he drew laughter with an unexpected aside: "Listening to myself, it makes me question why I bought this in the first place."