Partnership creates new work spaces in Allentown for artists

Brian Pedersen//September 13, 2019

Partnership creates new work spaces in Allentown for artists

Brian Pedersen//September 13, 2019

Three new artist garages are at the ground level of 520 Lofts, an apartment building in downtown Allentown. (Submitted) –

A partnership between City Center Investment Corp. and ArtsQuest has created new working spaces in downtown Allentown for artists.

At 520 Lofts in downtown Allentown, a City Center residential project completed earlier this year, three new artist garages opened up on the ground level at 520 Hamilton St.

“It’s a natural connection we had started with the Banana Factory as a studio home for artists which will help enliven that area,” said Patrick Brogan, chief programming officer and manager of the ArtsQuest Center.

ArtsQuest, a nonprofit in South Bethlehem, opened the Banana Factory, a visual arts center in Bethlehem in 1998.  Brogan said the Banana Factory has 26 studios for artists.

“City Center reached out to ArtsQuest and [with us] having been successful with this space in Bethlehem, wanted to bring it to downtown Allentown,” he said.

The three spaces are move-in ready. While he declined to provide rental costs, Brogam said the amounts are negotiable and based on the size of the space. Studios range from 370 square feet to 435 square feet.

ArtsQuest’s goal is to provide affordable space for artists, he added.

ArtsQuest and City Center found each other in this partnership, said Jill Wheeler, vice president of sales and marketing for City Center. Wheeler helped coordinate the project and said there was pent-up demand at Banana Factory for artist space.

“Arts are a vibrant part of downtown Allentown and we really wanted to capitalize on that,” Wheeler said. “It’s critically important to add more arts to our community. The 520 building really has a brand of creating and art and that was why that building was designed with those artist garages on the first floor.”

The studios include both natural and light-emitting diode lighting, utility sinks, and high ceilings with exposed beams.

Each space features a glass and aluminum garage door fronting Maple Street.

“The community can look inside and see what they are doing,” she added.

City Center will integrate the artists who occupy these spaces into the local school district, specifically, Central Elementary in Allentown, a school City Center adopted, she said.