The Goodman building was dry and shored up with actual soil running through most of the first floor on Friday on Southside Bethlehem.
It wasn’t always so for the property which is now seeing a $9.1 million public-private investment, celebrated with an afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“There were icicles of mold,” Arif M. Fazil, managing partner of Collaboration 3 LLC, owner of the building and a vacant lot next door at 30-32 E. Third St. “I can tell you the guy from the environment that we brought here, he was in awe…. There was mold growing in all directions. You could smell the stench outside.
It also affected the neighboring structure of the historic building erected in 1912 by Ben Goodman as a three-story furniture store.
Alvin Kanofsky, who taught physics for 50 years at nearby Lehigh University, bought the building and nearby land in 1986 and briefly operated a flea market there, before it sat vacant for more than 15 years, its electricity and water having been cut off for a long time. Kanofsky, who died in September 2019 at the age of 80, fought Bethlehem’s 2016 designation of the property as destroyed, with the city winning a long court battle and being named the property’s custodian in January 2017 even as Kanofsky in retained the property.
Through a call for tenders, city officials chose Collaboration 3 as the developer of the site. The partnership between Fazil’s D’Huy Engineering Inc., Alloy 5 Architecture and Skepton Construction purchased the building and vacant land from Kanofsky in August 2019, according to Northampton County property records.
Collaboration 3 invested $1.5 million in environmental remediation and structural upgrades to the existing 26,000 square foot building. On the vacant lot, there are plans to construct a new four-story 17,000 square foot building. The first floors of each will be for retail and restaurants, with the upper floors of the existing building planned as retail space and the adjacent three upper floors housing 12 market-priced apartments.
Pennsylvania has invested $2 million in rehabilitation through the Redevelopment Assistance Program with support from the city and legislators from Lehigh Valley to Harrisburg. This same program released last month more than $30 million for additional projects in the Lehigh Valley.
“We really appreciate your vision and your investment in our community,” State Rep. Steve Samuelson, D-Northampton, told developers Friday. “It’s a dramatic improvement for the block, for the neighborhood, for our whole city and we look forward to it.”
“The Goodman Building project is another example of a public-private partnership that will bring significant economic and community development benefits to the city of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley,” said Sen. Boscola, D-Lehigh/Northampton, in A press release. .
Mayor J. William Reynolds stressed Friday that it was public and private collaboration that made the project possible. It is a significant building on Southside, where the city hosts many new residential and commercial developments while continuing efforts to ensure long-time residents can stay there.
“This is obviously a super, super important project for the city of Bethlehem,” he said. “It can be a magnificent building – it’s going to be – but the reason we’re here is because of this creativity and passion on the private side. This isn’t just a project that’s going to pay off. “Money is about the passion of what we can do with this corridor. What can we transform this area into? And that’s something the city is always going to sign up for.”
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Kurt Bresswein can be reached at [email protected].