Generic warehouses

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Construction of a 326,000-square-foot warehouse at Allentown's northeastern gateway could start later this summer.

The city's planning commission approved Tuesday A. Duie Pyle's proposal for American Parkway and Airport Road on 9 acres that extend into Hanover Township, Lehigh County.

The planners attached conditions, including comments about trees, landscaping, fencing and sidewalks. The developer contended that sidewalks along parts of the property could lead pedestrians to dangerous intersections along Airport Road.

Commissioner Anthony Toth said the safety issue could be considered at a later meeting, but he said city ordinances requiring sidewalks should apply to all properties.

"It's a cost of doing business," Toth said. "If you want to develop in the city of Allentown, you have to comply with the ordinance."

Attorney Joseph Piperato, representing A. Duie Pyle, said the company has received approval from Hanover Township and is prepared to work with Allentown to meet the city's concerns. The goal is to break ground this summer.

The warehouse will not sit empty, architect Greg Seifert said.

"This is not a speculative warehouse project," Siefert said, meaning it is not being built while tenants are sought. "They (A. Duie Pyle) are the owner and operator."

West Chester-based A. Duie Pyle is a trucking and warehouse company.

Trucks will use Lloyd Street to reach the entrance, he said. The 40-foot-high building will be made of precast concrete.

The commission also granted preliminary approval for residential and commercial development at the old American Atelier factory at 207 N. Front St., near Bucky Boyle Park.

Manhattan Building Company has referred to the plan for the old furniture factory as the first phase of its development of Allentown's Lehigh River waterfront. The rehabilitation and expansion of the existing building will accommodate commercial and wholesale uses on the first floor, along with 25 apartments.

Manhattan Building's plans also include the old Neuweiler Brewery.

In other business, the commission reviewed plans for Zerfass Development's proposed 130,000-square-foot industrial building at 402 Basin St., once site of a city incinerator and now a homeless camp.

At a meeting two years ago, a city official said the homeless colony would have to be dealt with in case of development. No plan was in place then.

Developer Kevin Zerfass said the city's plans for nature trails in that area will be respected.

"It is our intent to have a trail surrounding this site," he said.

The commission did not take any formal action. The land is accessible from Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Joe Colasuonno's plan for 16 apartments at 401 Auburn St. received planning approval, with conditions. Commissioner Richard Button said the site will need pedestrian access to South Fourth Street.

A pair of two-story apartment buildings are planned for the half-acre, which is now a parking lot. There will be 24 parking spaces.

The commission agreed to give a developer another two years to build a Taco Bell at 1901 S. Fourth St. Attorney Michael Malloy, representing the developer, said the original plan was to relocate the Taco Bell on Lehigh Street to South Fourth Street, but that restaurant will remain.

The developer still plans to build a restaurant, but Malloy said the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the investment. The site is near a Wells Fargo Bank office. The original plan was approved over the objections of some neighbors.

"I think two years is excessive," Toth said. He proposed a one-year extension but was outvoted.

Tuesday's meeting ended after four hours.

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