Farr Lofts gets a piece of the arena - sort of
Dec 04, 2012 (The Morning Call (Menafn - Allentown - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Fearful that a wall of the Farr Lofts could crumble along with the remnants of a building removed to make room for a hockey arena, Allentown's arena authority Monday agreed to keep the wall of the demolished Rite Aid building standing.
For the past 10 months, the west wall of the now-demolished Rite Aid building has remained propped up by steel supports because arena construction crews worried that if they tore it down with the rest of the building it would pull down the east wall of the still-standing Farr Lofts. Monday, the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority decided to keep the former Rite Aid wall standing by attaching it to the four-story Farr Lofts apartment complex.
"There is concern that if we remove the steel supports that wall will crumble, causing a problem for the Farr Lofts," ANIZDA chairman Sy Traub said. "So we decided to grant the Farr Lofts an easement to make [the wall] a permanent part of the building. Essentially, we're going to pin that wall to the Farr Lofts to keep the whole thing up."
The project will add about 200,000 to the arena costs, said Sara Hailstone, interim executive director of ANIZDA.
ANIZDA is moving ahead with a 272 million project to build an 8,500-seat hockey arena, office building and hotel at Seventh and Hamilton streets. The city acquired most of the block and earlier this year demolished 33 properties to make room for the arena, where the American Hockey League Lehigh Valley Phantoms will begin playin 2014.
The Farr Lofts, which consists of 20 upscale apartments at 739 Hamilton, was the only building spared, because it was at the edge of the block and was not in the way of the arena. However, when crews started razing the former Rite Aid building at 733-737 Hamilton, they worried that the Rite Aid wall was also supporting the apartment building. They erected a series of steel supports that have been holding up the wall since February.
But now that the foundation is nearly complete, crews want to begin building the arena and those supports are in the way, ANIZDA solicitor Jerome Frank said. Frank was authorized to finalize a deal with Farr Lofts to have the wall tied into the steel structure of the apartment building.
The arena is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2014.
In other ANIZDA business, ANIZDA Vice Chairwoman Jennifer Mann resigned her seat, effective the end of the year. Mann, a 14-year state representative who served her last day in the state House Friday, has started a consulting firm and said her new business will not allow her to focus enough attention on her ANIZDA duties.
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