ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania — The plan to demolish much of the Neuweiler Brewery site in Allentown in favor of retail and apartment space should balance development with respect for the North Front Street landmark’s history , according to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
“The structures to be demolished have considerable local cultural and historical value,” according to a study by Steve Neratko, the LVPC’s chief community and regional planner.
The commission will review Neratko’s recommendations in meetings at noon Tuesday and 7 p.m. Thursday.
The brewery on the west bank of the Lehigh River was completed in 1913 and closed in 1968. The site was used for other purposes in the 1990s but has been vacant since 1998, according to the LVPC. Row houses cover the land to the north and west of the old brewery, and there is a small park to the south.
“While redevelopment of the area is important, attempts should be made to protect those elements of the site that can be preserved and extract any salvageable architectural resources as assets for potential reuse for this project or others” , according to Neratko’s letter, which is a draft until it is approved by the full committee. “Specifically, the copper cupola of the brewery building could be retained and used as an artistic element of the future site.”
The planning commission is reviewing proposed major developments for Lehigh and Northampton counties, but the City of Allentown will make the final decision on whether Manhattan Building Co.’s plan can proceed.
The developer proposes to construct a seven-story building with 37,967 square feet of retail space, 306 apartments and 358 parking spaces. Neuweiler Tower will remain, John Palumbo of the Manhattan Building said at an Allentown Planning Commission meeting in May. The commission requested additional details on the architecture and design of the development, and did not vote on the project at this meeting.
The brewery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is not a registered National Historic Landmark.
Neuweiler’s range included light lager, ale, premium beer, seasonal Bock beer, porter and other beers. It was a large employer in Allentown, but competition from national breweries led to closure in 1968. Some Neuweiler recipes were brewed by other beer brands after the closure.
LVPC’s professional staff reviews development proposals and makes recommendations which are discussed and voted on by appointed commissioners. The commissioner votes on the recommendations, not on the projects themselves. Once approved, the recommendations are sent to local governments for consideration.
The development of Neuweiler will be discussed by the LVPC’s overall planning committee at noon Tuesday and by the full committee at 7 p.m. Thursday. Both meetings are virtual. Links to the meetings are available on the LVPC website.