City Center plans to build 1,400-seat event center in downtown Allentown

Brian Pedersen//April 27, 2017

City Center plans to build 1,400-seat event center in downtown Allentown

Brian Pedersen//April 27, 2017

J.B. Reilly, founder and CEO of City Center Investment Corp., announced his plans about the event center today at an event hosted by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce at Renaissance Allentown Hotel.

“As part of Five City Center, there will be a park that includes passive recreation, live music, and in addition to that, we will be constructing an event center,” Reilly said. “It will open onto the park so we can have some larger performances.”

The event center would fit about 1,400 people and be a site that Reilly sees as complementary to the arena at PPL Center, which holds about 8,500 people and opened in 2014 to offer ice hockey, concerts and various events.

“We want to build on the success of PPL Center, to be able to continue to activate the environment and to have events and activities, really 365 days a year,” Reilly said. “It’s complementary. We are working with the Brooks [brothers Jim and Rob Brooks of BDH Development and co-owners of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms] to promote downtown Allentown. It’s a completely different market for an event venue.”

City Center is partnering with entertainment complex developer Jerry Deifer Jr., Reilly said.

The venue will offer a variety of events designed to provide nightly activity. Plans include a permanent stage, outdoor high definition light-emitting diode screens and a multi-season beer garden.

The Five City Center project has yet to be approved by the city and still needs to go through proper channels, including planning, but Reilly envisioned starting site work this fall.

While the event center would be available for private events and public concerts, it would be operational all year long, while the 1.7-acre park would be seasonal, likely opening every April.

“We are in the process of identifying operating partners so we can maximize the activities of the facilities,” Reilly said.

At 30,000 square feet, the event center would sit at the base level of a residential tower at Seventh and Walnut streets.


Studio Architecture of New York City and Land Collective of Philadelphia developed the master plan for the Five City Center campus, Reilly said.

The project includes the tallest office tower in Pennsylvania not in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.

City Center plans to build the site at the 700 block of Hamilton Street, bounded by Hamilton, Seventh, Walnut and Eighth streets.

Construction of Five City Center Innovation Tower is expected to finish in late 2020, with residential buildings set to be complete by mid-2019.


The Five City Center Innovation Tower at Eighth and Hamilton streets will be 24 floors, 353 feet tall and have 442,000 square feet.

With all the development occurring in downtown Allentown, Reilly still sees a continued, strong demand for office space.

Lehigh Valley Health Network recently announced it would move nearly 500 employees to Three City Center, another City Center office building, which is now fully leased. LVHN’s departure will will leave vacancies in two large office buildings in nearby Salisbury Township.


With the development of Five City Center Innovation Tower, Reilly envisions a better chance of landing a high-profile, out-of-area tenant.

“We really think we are in a position now, as the downtown is really starting to take shape, to be a potential relocation for an out-of-area company,” Reilly said.

“We believe we are positioned to hopefully capitalize on that if that situation arises.”


The campus project includes 1,000 parking spaces and two major residential components.

One residential building at Seventh and Walnut streets will have 12 floors and 150 apartments. The second residential building at Eighth and Walnut streets will have four floors and 75 apartments.

Other residential properties that City Center developed are leasing and nearing the end of construction.

STRATA East is 43 percent leased and scheduled to open in May, while STRATA Symphony, near the city’s arts district, is on schedule to open late this year.

Another separate City Center office project, Tower 6 at Sixth and Hamilton streets, is under construction and is 60 percent leased and set to open in 2018.