Allentown City Hall

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Allentown Planning Commission gave preliminary/final approval to an 80,000-square-foot science center proposed by DaVinci Science Center to be located at 18 N. Eighth St. during its Tuesday afternoon meeting.

"This will be a world-class science center," said Lin Erickson, executive director of DaVinci. "...We are so excited about this site...As an economic development asset we expect to attract 400,000 visitors to downtown Allentown."

The building is "connected to surrounding buildings in the area, and will have a "lot of glass" for transparency," according to comments by DaVinci officials. Further, DaVinci is considering an LED lighted sign for the building's front.

Erickson added the company was "not able to expand at the current facility" located on Cedar Crest Boulevard. As a result, she said, a new building was required.

The building will feature four classrooms inside for students who are visiting the facility for the day on field trips. There will also be a science theatre and travelling exhibit area. The building's second floor features exhibits including an otter exhibit. A small cafe and terrace will also be on this floor.

"It's more like a Wawa experience," Erickson said of the cafe. "...It's not a restaurant, but visitors will be able to get a bite to eat."

The planning commission granted DaVinci a waiver from the city's SALDO governing excavation when granting their approval.

In other business, the commission granted preliminary/final approval to build a 37,000-square-foot Microtel Hotel to be located at 301 Union Boulevard.

The proposal, offered by developer Mukesh & Dilip Patel, would have a four-story, 70-room facility offering access from Dauphin Street. The facility will have no meeting on banquet rooms but will have an indoor swimming pool, according to Patel.

The commission granted sidewalk deferral on Bradford Street and a waiver request in addition to the approval.

In other news, the planning commission tabled preliminary plan approval for the construction of a 40-unit apartment building at 1047 W. Hamilton St. with 16 parking units over two parcels.

The project, offered by Ninth Metro, is a five-story building to provide housing for individuals age 62 and over, according to comments by attorney Dennis McCarthy. The idea, according to Metro officials, is to keep the project with no frills, but affordable housing.

Commission members thought the plan should reconsider parking entry and the number of parking spots. They requested more conceptual development, although in general members expressed their support of the plan conceptually.

A final preliminary plan for a 40-unit apartment complex at 1034-1038 W. Hamilton St. by Ninth Metro was tabled at the applicant's request.

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