Mayor John Callahan made his “State of the City” address Wednesday morning before members of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, which met at the in South Bethlehem.
During the speech, the mayor announced several initiatives planned for the coming year and beyond. They include:
- Two buildings currently being planned for construction on former Bethlehem Steel Corp. land being developed as Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII. One is an 800,000-square-foot warehouse under development by Liberty Property Trust. The other would be 170,000 square feet and could be used for light industrial or warehouse use. Callahan pointed out that this is in addition to a 1.2 million-square foot building already under construction by Liberty Property Trust.
“All total this represents roughly 2.2 million sq. ft. of new development and a approximately $120 million private sector investment in Bethlehem — much of it is speculative in that it is being built without tenants. It’s hard to imagine a stronger vote of confidence on the future of the City of Bethlehem,” Callahan said.
- There will be continued development of the western end of Bethlehem Steel, the so-called BethWorks arts and entertainment district and the neighborhood around it. The mayor said he has “challenged” his economic development department to “aid in the remediation and the residential development of the (Bethlehem Steel General Office) Building (on Fourth Street), as well as drive additional residential uses” to the area.
- “I’ve asked them to bring a grocery store to the SouthSide. By the end of this year, I expect to be in the design phase of a new intermodal transportation hub and a new parking deck to support the growth of South Bethlehem.”
- The continuation of the project to improve and widen Route 412 to four lanes from I-78 into the city. That project is expected to break ground this spring. The is under design with construction slated to begin in 2013 and the replacement is under design. There will also be a new plan to provide “a facelift and upgrade to another critical commercial corridor in Bethlehem,” that will be announced in the coming months.
- There will be improvement to city parks. Another phase of the construction will be complete. So will the next phase of development of the . Upgrades to and are also planned.
- “Lastly, the city will initiate discussions with Norfolk Southern regarding the creation of another rail to trail project that would connect the neighborhoods of West Bethlehem to our downtown and our other trail networks in the city. I believe this project will make Bethlehem one of the most bike-friendly communities on the East Coast.”
For the full text of the mayor's speech, see: "