Signs of life are beginning to return to the site on Broad Street in Bethlehem where the former Boyd Theater and surrounding properties were demolished.
Originally opened in 1921, the theater had been vacant for many years and despite a number of attempts to revive it, storm damage ultimately left the theater and surrounding buildings too damaged to save.
But now, Serfass Construction, which is managing the construction of the $50 million project at 44 W. Broad Street for developers DLP Real Estate Capital and Monocacy General Contracting, has started work on the 205-unit apartment building that will fill the space.
“We’re setting the steel, which is a pretty major milestone,” said Project Manager Kevin Serfass. “Now that we’re out of the groundwork, the building will start taking shape over the next few months or so.”
Besides studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments, the six-story building will feature underground parking, a media room, a pool, a courtyard and first floor retail space.
Bringing the project to life is a large endeavor. While Serfass currently has about 30 people working at the site, he estimates that there will be up to 200 workers on site further on in development.
It’s also a challenge. While Serfass has a great deal of experience managing construction projects in dense urban areas, such projects need special considerations.
“We need to schedule deliveries for just in time delivery,” he said. “We need to get the trucks in and out and unload them right away.”
He said it’s also challenging to set up large equipment on the site.
“It takes time and coordination to get things up to the sixth floor,” he said. “We don’t have much to work with, just about a sidewalk’s width of space.”
He said at times such a project looks like they have a conveyor belt of trucks coming through dropping off supplies and equipment as quickly as possible.
That means they have to schedule deliveries down to the hour, which takes a great deal of planning and looking weeks ahead on what the project is going to need at which stage of construction.
It doesn’t help that supply chain issues are not easing in the construction industry, which means ordering equipment even farther ahead than before.
He said something as simple as an electrical switch gear can have a 52-week lead time and for many pieces of mechanical equipment there is a 40-week lead time.
“It’s really just being aware of how long the lead time is going to be,” he said.
As he sees the structure begin to take shape Serfass said he is very proud to be part of the project. He is keenly aware of the history of the site and is excited to seeing the building open and seeing people enjoying it.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction when you reach that milestone,” he said.
And that milestone is coming faster than you may think. Plans are to have the first units ready for tenants by mid 2024.