The real estate development company said it hired two firms to help create The Downtown Allentown Market, which would open in two retail spaces once occupied by clothing stores Sage and Aquarius. The project, estimated to cost about $3.5 million, could open by late summer or early fall, the company said.
After surveying City Center residents and office tenants, the company found that many people wanted a food hall with fast casual food, such as sushi, said Natalia Stezenko, City Center’s retail leasing and activation manager.
With payroll firm ADP planning to move 1,500 employees to the downtown in September, the need for more food options is likely to increase and that’s part of the reason for launching the project, she said.
“We just need more to meet the demand we are going to have,” Stezenko said.
The new market would be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, including late-night hours. It would include nine bays for local and regional food merchants.
Stezenko described the venue as more of a food hall than a public market, since the merchants would all sell fast casual food, she said. The site also could have temporary, pop-up retailers such as olive oil vendors or florists, she said. Bays would range in size from 287 to 575 square feet.
City Center is looking for merchants to open in the market and would consider those with experience operating a venue even if they do not own their own establishment, she added.
“We are looking for things to enhance the food options, not necessarily compete with anyone else,” Stezenko said. “Affordability is important; we haven’t decided the range of prices here.”
The 12,000 square-foot site for the market is along the ArtsWalk, a pedestrian pathway linking the PPL Center arena to the arts venues in Allentown. The food market would include outdoor seating along the ArtsWalk.
“I think it’s going to enhance everything we have going on,” said Miriam Huertes, senior vice president of Allentown Initiatives for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.
City Center selected Groundswell Design Group, based in Philadelphia, to design the site. A second firm, Cana Development, based in Baltimore, is helping City Center develop the project.
North Star Construction of Allentown is building the market, said Stezenko.
City Center owns the property and is behind the bulk of the city’s downtown revitalization projects.
Merchants can apply at www.DowntownAllentownMarket.com