$12.7M demolition of Allentown State Hospital begins

Starting immediately, a Gilbertsville demolition firm will begin taking down the buildings and structures of the Allentown State Hospital property. (PHOTO/FILE) –


Demolition work is beginning at the former Allentown State Hospital on Hanover Avenue in East Allentown.

Troy Thompson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, which oversees the property, said the initial job conference was held Wednesday. That’s the official first step of the project and work can now begin.

Thompson said the initial work will be securing the site and prep work to the interiors and exteriors of the 44 structures on the more than 200-acre property.

“The campus has a lot of older building and asbestos is an issue,” he said.

He noted that passers-by won’t be noticing a lot of changes initially.

“You won’t see a building coming down anytime soon, even though the work is beginning immediately,” Thompson said.

The entire demolition project, which is being managed by Neuber Environmental Services Inc. of Gilbertsville, is expected to take around 540 days, which sets an estimated completion date of November 2021.

The demolition will cost about $12.7 million.

The demolition of the historic buildings on the property does not come without controversy. There were numerous protests and petitions and even a lawsuit seeking to save the buildings, some of which were recently featured in M. Night Shyamalan’s 2019 film, “Glass.”

The buildings had stood vacant since closing in 2010 and the state was not able to find a buyer for the property.

The state decided the property would be easier to sell if the aging properties on it were demolished and the property was sold as green space.

After the buildings are demolished the state Department of General Services would begin the bidding process for developers who seek to purchase the property.

A committee was established by the state to oversee the bidding process so that the proposals are chosen for the impact they will have on the community as well as the dollar amount of the bid.

Local developers and elected officials have suggested uses ranging from light industrial to apartments.

Demo of Allentown State Hospital to begin in July

Starting in July, a demolition firm will begin taking down the buildings and structures of the Allentown State Hospital property. (PHOTO/FILE) –

The buildings and structures that comprise the long dormant Allentown State Hospital will start coming down this summer.

Demolition contractor Neuber Demolition & Environmental Services of Gilbertsville, Montgomery County, will start July 10 and finish in February 2021, with a completion of its contract work in May 2021, according to a proposal.

The Pennsylvania Department of General Services selected the firm last year for the demolition of the 100-year-old structures and buildings on the state-owned property at 1600 Hanover Ave.

The $10 million project includes demolition of 44 buildings and other structures on about 200 acres, treatment of hazardous materials, utility termination, site restoration, historical salvage, and design documents.

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh), said the property costs taxpayers $2 million a year for maintenance. He supported demolition because he believes the value of the property will go up once the buildings go down. A mixed-use site would be the best use of the property, he said.

“It’s a huge site with a lot of potential,” Schlossberg said.

The new use could include light industrial/manufacturing, which is in demand in the area, Schlossberg said.

“You can turn the property into something that will generate jobs,” Schlossberg said.

In addition, the property could have some small components of retail and residential uses, preferably age-restricted housing, he added.

“There’s definitely traffic and access concerns,” Schlossberg said.

However, starting with a cleared site would allow for a fresh start to redevelopment, he added.

Overall, he said the redevelopment should fit in with the neighborhood.

Schlossberg is on a committee that oversees redevelopment of the site and also solicits and accepts proposals for redevelopment.

“There’s going to be a public outreach component,” he said. “We want to be further ahead in the demolition process before we start that.”



State posts request for proposals for Allentown State Hospital demolition

Allentown State Hospital on Hanover Avenue in Allentown (File photo) –

Despite numerous petitions and alternate pitches, the buildings on the Allentown State Hospital campus are now being readied for the wrecking ball. The Pennsylvania Department of General Services has posted a request for proposals for the demolition of the structures on the 100-year-old, nearly 200-acre property.

The estimated cost of the project is listed as over $10 million. The scope of the work includes demolition of 44 buildings/structures on approximately 200 acres, hazardous materials abatement, utility termination, site restoration, historical salvage, design documents.

Proposals are due Oct. 10 by 2 p.m.  Prior to that the department has scheduled a pre-proposal conference at the site at 1600 Hanover Ave., Allentown.

The property had been vacant for more than 10 years, but its main building got a great deal of attention after the release earlier this year of the M. Night Shyamalan movie “Glass,” which was filmed on the property in 2017.

That shined a spotlight on some of the structure’s historic architecture, and a number of petitions were circulated in the Lehigh Valley calling for its preservation. Those petitions gathered several thousand signatures.

A number of developers, including former Allentown mayoral candidate Nat Hyman, attempted to convince the state to allow them to redevelop the property with the historic buildings in place.

But ultimately, the signatures and alternative proposals failed to sway the legislature, which voted unanimously to demolish the buildings and then sell the property to a developer.

Local legislators told LVB that they thought it was ultimately the best choice for the reuse of the property and economic development in the area.

After the buildings are demolished the state Department of General Services will begin the bidding process for developers who seek to purchase the property.

A committee will be established to insure that the proposals are chosen for the impact they will have on the community as well as the dollar amount of the bid.

Details on the RFP can be found HERE.

House approves bill to demolish Allentown State Hospital

The Allentown State Hospital on Hanover Avenue in Allentown. (Photo by Christopher Holland) –

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has voted 200-1 to move forward with the demolition of the Allentown State Hospital on Hanover Avenue in Allentown and hold a competitive-bid sale of the property after the work is complete.

A Republican Berks County representative was the lone no vote.

The bill now returns to the State Senate to concur with what were described as “minor technical word changes” in the house version.

The bill, which was sponsored by State Sen. Pat Browne (R- Lehigh County), had already been approved by the state senate in a 49-0 vote and it’s expected that the changes will be quickly approved by the senate at be sent to Gov. Tom Wolf for signature.

“We’ve been working very closely with the state Department of General Services on this and fully expect Governor Wolf to sign it,” said State Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Allentown), who voted in favor of the bill.

Schlossberg said he was not sure what the timetable would be on moving forward with the project once it receives the expected governor’s signature, but he said the goal is to move forward as quickly as possible so the nearly 200-acre property can be sold to a qualified developer that will find the best reuse for the property and get it back on the tax rolls.

The buildings had been sitting mostly vacant for the past 10 years.

While the demolition appears now to be a done deal, it has not been without controversy.

A petition was signed by several thousand area residents seeking to stop the demolition of the buildings on the property, especially the 107-year-old main hospital building, which was recently featured in the M. Night Shyamalan movie “Glass.”

The movie generated extra attention to the fate of what many consider to be historic buildings.

Also, an Allentown Developer, Nate Hyman, had filed a lawsuit, which he later withdrew, that tried to stop the demolition. He said he had the redevelopment experience to renovate and retain the structures.

But the bill that has just been approved countered the arguments Hyman had made in his lawsuit and he previously told Lehigh Valley Business that it was unlikely he would continue his fight.

Part of the bill puts a guiding hand over the future of the property.

A committee would be established to review bids. On the committee would be Browne and Schlossberg, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services and a representative of the city of Allentown.

That committee would take bids, but consider them based on what is best for the community and not just the highest dollar amount.

Partial demolition of Fairgrounds Square Mall should begin next spring

The owner of the Reading Fairgrounds Square Mall in Muhlenberg Township has announced redevelopment plans for the property that will include demolishing about 80 percent of the existing mall.

“The Fairgrounds Square Mall is a key property along the 5th Street Corridor and is too important to leave in its current condition. Based on input from community and business leaders, we believe this is the best approach,” said John Mulherin, vice president of government relations for Hull Property Group, the property’s owner.

The Boscov’s department store at the mall will be among the portions that will remain.

In the release, Jim Boscov, chairman and CEO of the department store chain, spoke in favor of the plan.

“Our Boscov’s store and Farmers Market locations adjacent to the mall property will benefit from the removal of the failed buildings. Hull Property Group has a proven track record of improving failed mall assets and I look forward to what they have planned for the Fairgrounds Square Mall property,” he said.

The developer said construction won’t likely begin before spring of next year because of the need to obtain necessary permits.

“This is a complicated demolition project due to the design and permitting required to create new facades for the anchor tenants remaining on the site,” said Rob Johnson, construction director for Hull.

The Hull Property Group is based in Augusta, Georgia and has properties in 14 states. The Fairgrounds Square Mall is its only Pennsylvania retail property.

A Bethlehem icon removed from skyline

The iconic corporate office skyscraper is no more for Bethlehem.

At 7 a.m., today, a Maryland-based demolition company imploded the building, which crumbled to the ground in seconds.

Watch: Martin Tower implosion


Once the corporate headquarters of the now defunct Bethlehem Steel Corp., the 21-story Martin Tower has sat vacant since 2007, becoming a white elephant among some local officials. The large dormant structure prompted the city and some developers to put forth plans to redevelop the site, which opened in 1972.

One of those plans, under Ashley Development, involved keeping the tower and creating a residential development but it was a plan that eventually got shelved.

Lou Ronca and Norton Herrick, the owners and developers of the property, have spent the past two years demolishing other vacant buildings surrounding the 53-acre site and removing asbestos from the tower.

In the meantime, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. had tried attracting companies to occupy the site.

LVEDC had taken project after project to developers in the hopes of getting an office user in the tower, Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC previously stated. However, it’s not the type of office space people are looking for, particularly when downtown Allentown has been seeing new Class-A office space going up.

Duane Wagner of HRP Management Inc., representing the property owners and developers, said the building had been completely stripped on the inside prior to implosion, with all the asbestos removed.

Controlled Demolition Inc., the company handling the implosion, has demolished about 8,000 structures worldwide and has a long history of demolition.

Wagner said his company is working with an independent engineering group to monitor air quality after the implosion. He plans to make the results available to the state Department of Environmental Protection.