ALLENTOWN, Pa. | A proposed expansion at the St. Luke’s Hospital Allentown Campus shelved during the pandemic is back on track.
The Allentown Planning Commission this week approved plans for the nearly 9,000-square-foot “Mother Baby Pavilion” in the 1700 block of Hamilton Street. The six-story addition will be bordered by Hamilton Street to the north, South 17th Street to the west and Maple Street to the south.
The project includes removing a portion of the entrance of the hospital’s east wing. The addition will be built within the footprint of the east entrance and an existing parking lot. A spokesperson for St. Luke’s University Health Network said construction will begin this year and wrap up in 2023. The project will create a roughly 50-bed maternity ward.
Hospital officials initially filed land development plans in February 2020 but withdrew them as priorities shifted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the health network’s attorney.
Before it was withdrawn, city planning staff reviewed the project and recommended pedestrian improvements, including the intersection at North St. Cloud and Hamilton streets which is situated at the north entrance of the proposed expansion. The intersection is a busy pedestrian crossing because of the parking lot across the street used by staff and visitors, according to the staff review letter.
At the time of the review, the crosswalk was faded and the curb ramps needed improvement. Planning staff also recommended better pedestrian crossing signs to improve visibility. The city had also recommended pedestrian improvements between Linden and Walnut streets.
City staff supported the project and recommended its approval.
The project engineer told planning commissioners this week that the proposed pedestrian traffic improvements were made part of an emergency department project after the maternity ward project was delayed.
The planning commission unanimously granted final approval.