Good Monday morning, Bethlehem. Are you ready for a momentous week in this city’s history?
1. At 4 p.m. Thursday, they cut the ribbon and open the doors to the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks. Among the expected dignitaries is Pennsylvania’s first lady, Susan Corbett, to celebrate a milestone in one of the most ambitious industrial redevelopment projects in history.
Next door to a still growing casino complex, the ArtsQuest Center’s developing surroundings, including a town square and two outdoor performance venues – all in the shadow of the iconic, mammoth Bethlehem Steel blast furnace – may forever shift the Lehigh Valley’s center of gravity to South Bethlehem.
The $26 million building includes a cabaret theater, a smaller live performance space, two movie theaters, a gift shop and an indoor public plaza.
For nearly a decade, the project has lived largely in the imagination of ArtsQuest founder and president Jeff Parks, splendidly profiled by Matt Assad in Sunday’s Morning Call.
This week, we start to find out if the reality lives up to Parks’ vision. If you believe past is prologue, then it will. Ticket sales for shows at the Musikfest Café have already exceeded expectations, Parks has said.
2. The Bethlehem Area School Board meets tonight at 6 p.m. at Sycamore Street for committee meetings on Curriculum and Human Resources. Summer school programs are among the items on a thin agenda.
3. On Tuesday at noon, the Bach Choir of Bethlehem has its last public tune up at the Central Moravian Church before the 104th annual Bethlehem Bach Festival in May. The piece to be sang is Cantata 67 -- Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ. Mary Watt will play the oboe.
4. The Bethlehem Planning Commission meets at 4 p.m. Thursday. At the top of the agenda is a plan to bring a Bottom Dollar grocery store to an abandoned industrial site along Stefko Boulevard, just north of the Wawa convenience store at Broad Street.
The plan was actually approved last month, but with a condition developers said doomed the project to the dustbin. The commission would not permit the continued use of more than one driveway onto Stefko. Project managers said this condition would be a deal breaker for the grocery chain.
On Thursday, they are coming back to discuss a proposed change to the traffic pattern.
5. In road maintenance this week, there will be brush clearing along the eastbound lanes of Route 22 through Bethlehem today through Wednesday during daylight hours. There could be lane restrictions. There may also be delays along Route 412 on Friday, when PennDOT is scheduled to do some pothole patching between Shimersville Road and Daly Avenue.
As ever, the construction of a new ramp and improvements to the southern end of the Hill-to-Hill Bridge will cause delays along Third Street, Brodhead Avenue and the surrounding blocks.
Have a great week!