City Center Investment Corp. announced plans to build its tallest building yet, a 16-story office tower that would rise at the corner of Seventh and Hamilton streets across from PPL Center in downtown Allentown.
Construction of the building, 1 Center Square, could begin by fall 2020, with occupancy in 2022, said J.B. Reilly, president of City Center.
The Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority approved the plans for the project at a meeting on Dec. 4.
Reilly said his company is starting to talk to potential tenants to occupy the building, estimated to cost about $100 million to build.
“I view this as truly a signature building, so we think when you look at the location and the design and all the amenities of the building, this is going to be attractive to a business that really values a strong presence,” Reilly said.
The building could be ideal for major law firms, accounting firms or the significant division of a company.
“It’s a Class-A building that should attract leaders in the industry,” Reilly said.
Designed by JDavis Architects, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, the 250-foot tall building will include ground floor retail space with offices above.
A half-acre plaza of hardscaped and landscaped open space will surround the building, blending into Center Square.
North Star Construction Management of Allentown is the firm building the project.
The interior of the approximately 296,000 square feet of office space will include large glass windows and wide-open floor plates that can accommodate options like flexible workspaces, stairs and theater-style auditoriums.
Reilly has owned the building since 1999 and noted it is the last developable site for center square, the center of the downtown.
Wells Fargo, a major tenant with its name on the exterior of the building, will move next year, Reilly said.
James Baum, spokesperson for Wells Fargo, said Wells Fargo has a branch at that site and a few administrative offices.
“At Wells Fargo we are thrilled to see the continued rejuvenation of downtown Allentown and we will remain a part of this resurgence through a retail bank presence in the city center,” Baum said.
Baum said he could provide additional details in the new year.
“We are developing the property because we feel there’s a strong demand for office space downtown,” Reilly said.
Many companies in the Lehigh Valley are occupying office space that’s more than 30 years old, he said. With 1 Center Square and the company’s other office buildings, City Center has been able to develop modern office environments that meet the needs of executives today, he added.
Occupancy across all five of City Center’s office buildings is 97 percent.
“We are trying to stay ahead of the demand,” Reilly said.
Steve Bamford, executive director of ANIZDA, said he thought the building would be a great addition to the downtown.
“As far as economic activity, employees coming and going means more people on the street and that means more vibrancy in the downtown,” Bamford said.
“Any downtown that is able to preserve some of the historic structures while also adding modern buildings that employers are looking for makes for a more vibrant downtown.”
Bamford said he liked how City Center plans to restore the historic bank facade while adding the modern structure above it.