938-952 W. Washington Street

ALLENTOWN, Pa. | Allentown planning officials have put their support behind developer Nat Hyman’s latest redevelopment project.

Hyman plans on converting a vacant five-story warehouse at 938-952 W. Washington St. into 36 apartments. He brought his adaptive re-use application before the Allentown Planning Commission Tuesday, and commissioners recommended that the zoning hearing board approve the project.

Hyman proposes 28 one-bedroom apartments, four two-bedroom apartments and four studios. The entire first floor will be converted into indoor parking with 35 spaces for tenants on the building’s upper four floors.

Hyman told planning commissioners that the building currently has a freight elevator, and that he’d been undecided about whether to convert it into a passenger elevator. But given the building is five stories, he said he may have to make the change.

As part of the redevelopment, the property’s sidewalks will be repaired, and the first-floor parking garage will be made to look from the outside like living space, according to Hyman.

The building’s massive window openings will remain, and the collection of small, individual windowpanes be replaced with three 4-foot wide panels. Hyman told planning commissioners that the project will also include an exercise room and community room in the basement.

He doesn’t plan any other external renovations except to repair the façade.

Hyman said he envisions a more “up-scale building” with the average one-bedroom apartment fetching monthly rents between $1,100 and $1,200.

A Washington Street neighbor to the west of the building told the planning commission that her primary concern about the project is an already difficult parking situation with homes that have two or more vehicles.

Hyman said tenants in his other properties have traditionally used public transportation or have only one vehicle. He noted that a lack of parking has generally not been a problem at his other buildings.

But he can’t market apartments if he doesn’t have enough parking, Hyman told planners. So, he’s reached an agreement with the nearby St. Francis of Assisi Church for overflow parking.

City planning staff supports the re-use, and the planning commission unanimously voted to recommend the zoning hearing board approve the application.

Hyman said after the meeting that he expects it will take three to six months to secure all the necessary reviews, permits and approvals from outside agencies. Once all the approvals are in hand, he expects a roughly 12-month construction.