At the end of October, Lehigh University and Jefferson-Werner LLC plan to break ground on the Brinker Loft apartments. The building, located on Adams and East Fourth streets in South Bethlehem, will host retailers on the first floor and 30 apartments throughout the other floors.
The apartments will vary in size from studios to one- and two-bedroom apartments on the upper floors. Each apartment will be furnished with new kitchen appliances and a washer-dryer unit.
The building was built in 1893 by the Lehigh Valley Cold Storage Co. Lehigh has owned the building since the 1960s and has used it as a storage space. Recently, however, the university decided it would be put to better use as a residential space.
“The building is located in the center of the business district,” said Adrienne Washington, the assistant vice president for community and regional affairs at Lehigh. “We thought there was a greater potential for the building, so we decided to convert it into apartments.”
Washington said the planning process behind converting the building has been in discussion for several years. In February, Lehigh released a proposal request for developers to showcase their ideas for the conversion.
Out of 16 candidates, Lehigh decided Jefferson-Werner LLC was the best fit for the project. The company now holds a ground lease for the Brinker apartments.
Charles Jefferson, the founding principal of Jefferson-Werner, said the project should be completed and ready for residents to move in by August 2018.
The building will have an outdoor courtyard and might have a cafe in the retail space. Jefferson-Werner has spoken with many vendors, but plans are not finalized yet.
These apartments will not be affiliated with Lehigh housing, so anyone can move into the apartments.
There will not be a fitness gym in the building for residents to use.
“We really want to encourage people to go out and join things in the community,” Jefferson said. “We don’t want to isolate people by putting in a fitness facility that only residents can use.”
Residents can purchase parking permits through the city of Bethlehem. Jefferson said he thinks residents will use the parking garage a block away.
Although Lehigh owns the building, Charles Inwald, ’19, doubts it will be a popular residence for students.
“With it being far from campus, I don’t think I’d move there,” Inwald said. “I don’t have a car on campus, and the distance is of concern to me.”
Washington said although the rent for the apartments has not yet been determined, it will be within the range of Bethlehem’s market price value.
She said Lehigh will not directly collect rent from tenants but will have Jefferson-Werner hire someone to operate the building. The company will control and manage it like an apartment complex and will collect and keep the rent.