Plans for the Martin Tower plot, perhaps the last big chance for redevelopment in the city of Bethlehem, will be reviewed this week by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
Martin Tower was the headquarters of the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. The 21-story structure was demolished in 2019, leaving around 16,000 tons of structural steel and 6,500 cubic meters of concrete. The site has been cleaned up.
The LVPC will discuss the Tower Place project in committee on Tuesday at noon. The full commission will review the plans Thursday at 7 p.m.
Tower Place would intersect the 53-acre site at 1170 Eight Ave. into three lots to construct two three-story medical office buildings with parking, and would leave the third lot for future development.
This third batch is not to be reviewed this week. Previously, developers Lewis Ronca and Norton Herrick had proposed 300 apartments, a hotel, restaurant, gas station and retail space in addition to medical practices.
The staff review project on the commission’s website questions the value of a traffic study conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic and notes congestion on Eaton Avenue.
The recommendations as proposed also include sustainability.
“This development offers a unique opportunity to incorporate sustainable designs that would complement the character of the area while minimizing environmental impacts. One opportunity is the design of sustainable and improved car parks that combine abundant vegetation, permeable paving materials, a safe access for pedestrians, cyclists, and ADAs, as well as connections to public transit. This is especially important in an urban environment where existing density is coupled with new development,” according to the review of five members of the LVPC staff.
The planning commission’s professional staff reviews proposed major projects for Lehigh and Northampton counties. The commissioners appointed represent the two counties and municipalities. They review and sometimes modify the recommendations.
On Tuesday, the LVPC Global Planning Committee will review the plans. On Thursday, the full committee will vote. This vote is on staff recommendations, not on whether a project can go ahead. Final land use decisions rest with the City of Bethlehem.
LVPC meetings are held virtually. Links are available on the LVPC website.