Hefele said the other major outstanding issue involves the River Walk.
The city and developers are working to create an operating and maintenance agreement for River Walk and public plazas in the Waterfront, which will include rules and regulations to ensure those areas will be safe, attractive and family-friendly. Those regulations will have to be approved by City Council.
A draft of that agreement will be given to the city’s legal department within two weeks, said Atty. Joseph Fitzpatrick, lawyer for the developers.
“Sounds like at least the River Walk piece is on the cusp of getting resolved,” said Oldrich Foucek, chairman of the planning commission.
Hefele indicated the commission could give the Waterfront final approval with conditions, but no work could be done until all those conditions are met.
Zachary Jaindl said the planning commission’s postponement should not push back plans to start construction between April and June of next year. The Waterfront, which now has a $300 million price tag, includes a total of nine buildings and two parking garages. The developers have predicted it may take up to 10 years to complete the entire project.
Apartments in the Parkway
Called Apartments in the Parkway, the two buildings proposed next to Lehigh Parkway will have a total of 170 units and 259 parking spaces.
That equates to 400 residents, said Foucek.
They will be built at 1606-12626 Lehigh Parkway East, undeveloped land just east of where Lehigh Parkway East bends and drops down the hill toward the creek. The new buildings will be just below the Regency Towers high-rise apartment building that overlooks that section of the parkway.
The triangular “island” where Lehigh Parkway East meets Lehigh Parkway North near the north end of the concrete bridge will be eliminated, replaced with a T-shaped intersection.
The developer plans to pipe stormwater run-off from the buildings under a trail the city plans to develop through that part of the parkway. Below that trail, the water would come to the surface and continue through a swale down to the creek.
Planner Anthony Toth wants as little impact as possible to the stream bank and its riparian corridor, by making that swale “aesthetically pleasing.” He doesn’t want people who walk through that grassy area of the parkway to have to climb over a “rip-rap apron” of large rocks.
The city parks department will be asked to review the plan and comment on it before final approval is given.
The apartment development already was approved in January 2009 by the planning commission, but then three buildings were proposed that were not as tall. Project engineer Jeffrey Ott said the economy stopped the project from proceeding in ’09.
Hefele said Bruce Barker is one of the principals of Lehigh Parkway Apartments LLC, which will build the apartment buildings.
The developers will need federal approval because part of the project will be in a flood plain. Hefele said the development meets requirements of the city’s own flood plain ordinance.
City resident Ken Heffentrager, who represents the Tenant Association of Allentown, objected to the plan. He asked if the neighborhood had been informed “about sticking up a couple of apartment buildings with
170 more apartments?”
He said the buildings will put more traffic on roads not designed to handle it. And he said it’s been proven that apartment buildings in cities diminish property values.
“It seems like a bad location, not to mention just bad for the City of Allentown,” said Heffentrager, who maintained Allentown already is 52 percent rental.
Ott responded that “an apartment use is allowed by right in that part of the city.”
The apartments will range in size from 600 square feet for a few small efficiency units to 850 square feet for one-bedroom units, to up to
1,200 square feet for two-bedroom units and up to 1,500 square feet for three-bedroom units.
After the meeting, Ott predicted construction should start in the spring of 2014 and probably will take a year to complete.
The McDonalds at 1432 S. 4th St. will be demolished and rebuilt.