The Lehigh Valley International Airport is searching for a developer that will build a hotel and retail space adjacent to the lone terminal.
Thomas Stoudt, the executive director of the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, said they are looking to build a hotel that will have between 125-150 rooms, as well as options for store fronts. The study that the airport had undergone “identified that there is definitely a shortage of hotel room space close to the airport,” Stoudt said.
A master plan study provides a conceptual layout to guide future growth and development. It is an internal study that includes analysis, recommendations and proposals for a site’s population, economy, housing, transportation, community facilities and land use.
Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., a professional services and investment management company, was hired by the airport to conduct a similar study.
“They did their own market study of our area and confirmed our master plan study, which says there is demand for additional hotel room capacity,” Stoudt said.
Based on these two studies, consumer traffic will likely not be an issue at all for the new development.
Frank Facchiano, the chief operating officer for the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and the executive vice president for member relations, said occupancy rates by the hotel are high, so more hotel rooms would ensure that supply does not fall short of demand.
Facchiano said developing the land will bring in extra tax revenue for the city.
“The new project will be great for the community with all new retail space, and I am excited to see the completed product,” said Owen Loughlin, ’19, an Allentown resident.
Stoudt said proposals must be sent by April 26. The finalization for selection of the developer is expected to be done in July or August 2019. Then, the firm and the airport will enter negotiations about the project. The pre-proposal meeting was held last week, and the development is now being advertised.
“At this point, we’re kind of in the waiting phase as developers start on their proposals,” Stoudt said. “Once the developers get in their proposal, they can then be reviewed.”
Stoudt said he expects construction to start in spring 2020.
Although the date seems far away, it takes time for all the work that must get done behind the scenes to ensure a well-organized and efficient project.
“Having a place to meet right at the airport would serve many people,” Facchiano said.