The Allentown Redevelopment Authority Wednesday heard an update on the "Mansion on Seventh Street" which will be transformed into an arts community complete with a walk, outdoor cafe and exhibition area and 11 individual apartments next door.
According to architect Lucienne Di Biase Dooley, owner of Artefact, Inc., a Bethlehem-based architectural, planning, and sustainable design firm, the construction and rehabilitation of 315-317 N. Seventh St. extending back to Church Street will begin sometime between the middle of next month and the end of September.
She explained the redevelopment project, which 25 years ago was awarded a $140,000 community development block grant from the state, has been sitting undeveloped since 1990. However, after meeting state block grant and historical commission guidelines and mandates, the project is nearly ready for a groundbreaking.
Dooley explained the original mansion facing Seventh Street will be transformed into second and third floor offices and next door to the north will contain the arts walk flanked by 11 apartment bungalows with the exhibition and cafe features located in the rear of the property nearer to Church Street.
The architect noted she already has $55,000 invested in the project and has been conducting the project on a nonprofit basis. She said the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. attempted to bring the project to fruition in the past, but nothing ever materialized.
"We look to create meaningful impacts on a community," Dooley remarked.
Dooley's firm redesigned the Easton 13 th Street silk mill project.
Seventh Street Development Committee Main Street Manager Peter Lewnes commented, "This is a huge deal for us because it bridges the gap between the downtown and the Seventh Street communities."
He also pointed out the project allows for all neighborhood residents to become involved in their community.