Lehigh Valley

Developer scales back plans for Five City Center apartment building

Changes make project financially feasible

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - City Center Investment Corp. is scaling back a residential portion of its Five City Center development to keep the project fiscally sound and allow the company to more aggressively pursue its newest apartment project.

City Center representatives appeared before the Allentown Planning Commission Tuesday to revise plans for Center Square East, the larger residential portion of the Five City Center project at Seventh and Walnut streets.

In November, the developer received planning commission approval for 220 apartments in a six-story building atop 239 underground parking spaces. Revised plans now call for 170 apartments on four stories atop 188 parking spaces.

Five City Center still stretches from Seventh Street to Eighth Street and Hamilton Street to Walnut with a massive courtyard in the center that will feature a swimming pool and sundeck, lounges and fire pits, grilling stations, turf areas and outdoor dining spaces for residents.

First-floor common spaces will also include a lounge, leasing area, fitness room, pet spa and a mailroom for residents that will feature cold storage for the delivery of groceries.

But design changes include eliminating a glass corridor in the northeast corner of Center Square East in favor of apartments that will feature floor-to-ceiling windows to offer the same aesthetic. The developer has also eliminated some apartments in favor of a rooftop lounge and terrace for residents that will offer views of Allentown Center Square.

After planning commissioners signed off on the changes, company president J.B. Reilly said Center Square East was scaled back to keep the project financially feasible and the proposed rents in line with original projections. A six-story apartment building just wasn’t going to make financial sense in this market, he said.

“That’s why you don’t see a lot of six-story apartment buildings being built in this area,” Reilly said.
Monthly rents for apartments at the $40 million Center Square East are projected to fetch between $1,200 and $1,700 for studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms.

Since receiving final approval for the project last year, City Center has also committed to building nearly 200 more apartments at its proposed City Place on the site of the former Holiday Inn at Ninth and Hamilton streets.

During a presentation to the planning commission last month, Reilly described the apartments as a “more attainable” option for people living and working downtown. Reilly said Tuesday that scaling back Five Center East can allow the company to “more aggressively” accelerate the construction timeline for City Place.

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