father Lehigh Valley projects redevelopment grants now up to $50.5 million this fall

State legislators representing the Lehigh Valley announced a new round of local grants totaling $19,564,737 from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

These grants, awarded beginning November 18, are in addition to the $30,950,000 awarded through October 31 in the 2022 round of RACP grants for private, public and community projects in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

Statewide, this latest round of grants represents $916.25 million of the total funding awarded from the program this year.

RACP is a Pennsylvania grant program administered by the State Office of the Budget for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. The funded projects are approved under the “Remediation Aid” section of a Capital Budget Allocation Act, have regional or multi-jurisdictional impact, and result in a significant increase or maintenance of current levels of employment, tax revenue, or other measures of economic activity, as described by the Office of the Secretary of State Pat Browne, R-Lehigh.

Browne, along with State Assemblyman Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, announced a $6.5 million RACP funding to convert the Lehigh Valley Health Network’s existing 17th Street emergency room in Allentown to the ground floor of an adjacent medical office building, also owned by Lehigh Valley Health Network. The current emergency room has not been renovated in over 30 years.

“We would like to thank Sen. Pat Browne and Rep. Mike Schlossberg for leading the way in securing this funding, along with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Gov. Tom Wolf for this gift, which will allow LVHN to modernize and expand our 17th Street emergency space to improve access to people living in Center City Allentown,” said Dr. Brian A. Nester, President and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Health Network, in a statement.

State Senator Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh/Northampton, Announced RACP Funding for St. Luke’s Anderson Campus Extension in Bethlehem Township ($4,314,738); The Marquis Parking Garage by City Center Investment Corp. at 27 S. Third St. in Easton ($3,500,000); and the Majestic Hanover Flex Center Business Park at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, ($2,500,000).

“The Lehigh Valley delegation has again taken a bipartisan lead to invest in projects that extend beyond the community line,” Boscola said. “The Lehigh Valley delegation recognizes the importance of working together to advance these restoration projects that support economic growth and improve communities across the region.”

The Majestic grant is for the construction of public backbone infrastructure on unpaved land owned by the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority to be used as a flexpark. These include surface improvements (pavement, strips, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and adjacent landscaping, fire hydrants, streetlights, etc.), underground wet and dry utilities (water, sewer and rainwater pipes, power and telecommunications lines, conduits and vaults, and natural gas lines), and other improvements as needed, according to State MP Ann Flood, R-Northampton.

“Like St. Luke’s, Lehigh Valley International Airport is an important asset to our region and I am delighted that these funds are being put to good use by creating a business park located across from the airport. ” Flood indicated. “This will open up the opportunity for more jobs in the region and boost economic growth.”

State Assemblyman Zach Mako, R-Lehigh/Northampton, announced the release of $1.5 million from the program to construct a new public works building in the township of Lehigh. The money will be used to build the facility on a vacant lot in the current community complex. The building will be large enough to house all of the trucks and equipment, and will contain an elevator and two maintenance bays, according to Mako. A separate storage area accommodates signs, barriers and other supplies to eliminate clutter and trip hazards. There will also be a small office/training room, a canteen room and a modern bathroom with a shower.

“The current public works facility of Lehigh Township was built in 1958,” Mako explained. “This aging facility cannot meet the current needs of the community and the need to store equipment outdoors in variable weather conditions has resulted in rust, premature deterioration and reduced lifespan of this equipment. I am pleased to be able to help with the funding needed to complete this project.”

RACP grants, announced earlier this fall, awarded $14.1 million for projects on former Bethlehem Steel land — one of the largest brownfield sites in the country. This included $7 million for ArtsQuest to adaptively repurpose Steel’s old Turn and Grind Shop at SteelStacks in Southside Bethlehem as a public programming space for nationwide touring educational programs, science and arts-related exhibitions, and the expansion of ArtsQuest’s festivals, including the Christkindlmarkt and the Oktoberfest and music festival. Additional RACP grants of $1 million each were awarded for the redevelopment of Allentown’s former nightclub Banana Joe’s and ongoing infrastructure improvements at Lehigh Valley International Airport.

Below is a table covering this latest round of RACP funding, with project descriptions provided by the state budget office. Click here to view it, or to view it full screen as it may not be viewable on all platforms.

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Kurt Bresswein can be reached at [email protected].