Foucek said "I'm not suggesting you put another set of stairs in there" but noted many people parking in the garage also might walk between it and Hamilton on Law Street. No stair and/or elevator tower is planned on the northeast corner of the garage.

Helmer stressed the garage will be more brightly illuminated than required and will include design features to make people using it feel both comfortable and safe, including surveillance cameras, glass elevators and fencing to keep intruders out of the ground floor levels,

Vehicles will enter and exit the garage from either Sixth or Walnut streets. Each entrance will be three lanes wide, with the "reversible" center lane used to expedite vehicles coming and going in high traffic times.

Tamara Dolan, executive director of the parking authority, attended the meeting but did not address the planning commission.

Just last week Allentown City Council vice president Ray O'Connell, who serves as council's representative on  the parking authority, declared the city “unequivocally” has enough parking spaces to accommodate people who will be going to events at the PPL Center multi-purpose hockey arena, as well as to new restaurants and businesses in the redeveloping center city.

O'Connell did not mention the proposed new parking garage.

After the planning commission meeting, Dolan said the parking authority already has five parking garages. "This is the only one we're currently considering constructing," she said.

She estimated the new garage will cost about $22 million.

Dolan also said O'Connell was only talking about the city having enough parking for events in the arena, adding: "The purpose of this deck is for daytime employees."

The project's developers told the planning commission the garage will be no more more than seven levels high, but indicated the parking authority could decide to make it only six levels high, in which case it would hold 840 cars.

They hope to begin construction by December and complete the project in nine or 10 months.

During construction, they anticipate blocking at least one lane along Walnut Street, but none along Sixth.

The planning commission approved a waiver so the developers can return for final plan approval on Sept, 9.

Expansion approved

Also during Tuesday's meeting, the planning commission smoothly approved a 20,325-square-foot addition for Hospital Central Services in 2139 28th St, S.W.

Hospital Central Services is an industrial laundry processing and linen service company serving more than 45 hospitals.

The company plans to relocate a parking lot to make room for the addition.

It has 142 parking paces now --44 more than required by the city -- and plans to keep that number when the lot is moved.

Dan Marcante, chief operating officer at the company, said it has been operating in  the same south Allentown building for 40 years.

He said last year the company evaluated  staying in the city or relocating, adding it decided to stay and build the addition. He said it intends to retool its entire plant to remain competitive.

Marcante said the company employs about 180 people at that location and hopes to add 40 more in three years when the total expansion project is complete.

"Thank you for staying in the city," said Foucek, the planning commission chairman, after the expansion was given unanimous final approval.