Authority approves 2 contracts for Easton's Simon Silk Mill redevelopment project

Property to become mixed-use arts village

Author: , WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published: Nov 28 2012 11:31:41 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 29 2012 06:00:39 AM EST

Two key pieces of the longstanding Simon Silk Mill redevelopment puzzle are on the verge of being filled.

One of these pieces was filled Wednesday night when the Easton Redevelopment Authority approved two contracts for environmental remediation work at the vacant 15-acre site at North 13th Street and Bushkill Drive, which is being eyed for conversion into a multi-use arts village.

Authority members are confident the next piece of the puzzle will be filled on Dec. 5 when the Easton Planning Commission will consider approving planned infrastructure improvements at the former mill site, including new access roads and utilities. This approval, authority members say, would pave the way for the site’s re-developer, the VM Development Group, to develop first phase building plans.

The piece of the redevelopment puzzle filled during Wednesday night’s Redevelopment Authority meeting includes a pair of environmental remediation contracts totaling $435,000.

Gretchen Longenbach, the authority’s executive director, said both of these contracts are being funded with grant money.

One contract for $196,000 was awarded to Crest Environmental Services of Reading for the removal of oil, abatement of lead-contaminated materials and removal of an underground storage tank. The other contract for $239,000 was awarded to Scot Christopher Rule Painting of Flemington, N.J. for the abatement of lead-contaminated materials in two buildings totaling 55,000 square feet.

Longenbach said this remediation work is expected be completed throughout the winter. Once remediation work is complete, the next step will be to complete infrastructure improvements followed by the actual redevelopment of the existing buildings.

The project’s 50,000 square-feet first phase will be comprised of a mix of commercial uses and up to 36 residential units with specific work amenities for artists, Longenbach said.

Subsequent phases are expected to include a community arts center, retail stores, restaurants, boutique hotel and other uses. Total redevelopment is expected to comprise 325,000 square feet.

Longenbach estimates the first phase of the redevelopment project could be ready for occupancy within two years.

Officials have described the redevelopment project as an arts village for the creative industries where residents can live and work 24 hours a day. The project has similarities to the ArtsQuest complex in Bethlehem.

The property, acquired by the Easton Redevelopment Authority in 2006, was first developed as a silk mill in 1883. Before the textile industry began its decline in the latter half of the 20th century, the site grew to include more than 20 industrial buildings.

Officials said the goal is to redevelop, within its existing historic framework, 97 percent of the property.

The authority is looking to sell the property to the re-developer in phases. The first phase of the sale (for two buildings) has already occurred, and the authority on Wednesday authorized its executive director to negotiate the second phase of the sale of four more buildings at a cost of $3.50 per square foot.

The total redevelopment vision for the property, as posted on the Greater Easton Development Partnership website, is as follows:

-- A community arts center possibly involving gallery space, working artist studios, small live performance venues, classrooms and community meeting rooms, shared production facilities (kilns, pottery wheels, metal-working facilities, etc.), artist demonstration stages, an art film theatre, etc.

-- An artist live-work facility providing affordable joint residential/studio space for qualified artists and their families.

-- A boutique hotel and conference center providing overnight accommodations for visitors.

-- A mix of market-rate retail, commercial, office, restaurants, and production facilities catering to the creative industries.

The appointed re-developer, the VM Development Group, is currently completing the redevelopment of the former Pomeroy building on the 300 block Northampton Street.

The VM Group, on its website, said the former silk mill site will become “a tour de force in the museum exhibition and community arts education forum.”


Legal issues to keep Peterson off the field

Running back indicted on felony child abuse charges

Author: By Ed Payne CNN
Published: Sep 17 2014 02:16:41 AM EDT   Updated:  2 HR. AGO
Adrian Peterson

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

(CNN) -

Running back Adrian Peterson will not play for the Minnesota Vikings until his legal issues are resolved, the team said early Wednesday.

It's a reversal of course for the Vikings. The team had earlier said that Peterson, who is facing a child abuse charge, would practice this week and could play in Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

In a statement early Wednesday, the team said Peterson has been placed on the NFL's Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list, which will require him to "remain away from all team activities."

"While we were trying to make a balanced decision (Monday), after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian," said a statement from owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. "We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right."

Peterson is considered one of the best running backs in the NFL -- if not the best. His absence was probably felt during the Vikings' 30-7 loss to the Patriots last Sunday.

In 2011, he agreed to a lucrative contract, which NFL.com reported would be worth $100 million over a 7-year period.

Turn for the worse

But his fortunes have taken a turn for the worse since his indictment last week on a felony charge of causing bodily injury to his son.

On Tuesday, he lost one of his most significant endorsement deals when Castrol, a major producer of motor oil, pulled out.

Castrol used Peterson in commercials for its Edge performance oil product and on social media. Many recent social media posts of his likeness had been pulled down, and the commercials were no longer available on YouTube. (His other major sponsor, Nike, said late last week it would stand by its athlete for the time being.)

One of the team's sponsors, the Radisson hotel chain, announced Monday night that it was suspending its "limited sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings while we evaluate the facts and circumstances."

Also, the website for his All Day Foundation was taken off line after the charities represented on the site were getting "harassing" calls from gossip sites, his philanthropic adviser, Bruce Richmond, said.

"We took the website off line because the charities that Adrian supports were getting calls from the media and were getting harassed by the media," Richmond told CNN. "I spoke to one communication director saying she had received about a dozen calls today from the same gossip site."

Legal process

Following his indictment, Peterson turned himself in to East Texas authorities Saturday and was released on a $15,000 bond.

The next step is a preliminary court hearing on October 8.

According to Texas law, people can be convicted of injury to a child if they cause bodily or mental injury "intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence" or cause such harm by omission. The crime is punishable by up to two years in a state jail and a $1,000 fine.

Authorities haven't divulged the details of what led to the charge. But Peterson's lawyer said the "charged conduct involves using a switch to spank his son" -- explaining that his client did so while doling out discipline "much like "he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas."

Rusty Hardin said "Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury."

Peterson defended himself on Monday, saying he is "not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser."

Other allegations

The developments came as CNN affilaite KHOU reported this week that Peterson allegedly abused another one of his children -- a 4-year-old son.

Sources told KHOU that the mother of the child filed a complaint with Child Protective Services in Texas because she alleged that Peterson beat the child, while visiting his father at his Houston-area home.

According to the report, text messages between Peterson and the boy's mother show that Peterson admitted disciplining the child, but he claims the child hit his head on the car seat in the process.

No charges were ever filed, according to KHOU.


On this Day

  • Civil War, Battle of Antietam painting

    Library of Congress

    On this day: September 17

    The U.S. Constitution is signed, the Civil War sees the bloodiest battle in American history, the prototype space shuttle Enterprise is unveiled, and the Camp David Accords bring peace between Egypt and Israel, all on this day.

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