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11/26/2012 | Construction Blog

Northampton County executive John Stoffa and Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan recently announced their support for a feasibility study that would eventually lead to the construction of a convention center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The projected site for the new large convention and exposition center would be near the Sands Beth Works site. Northampton County has awarded $50,000 to the Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority to open the funding for the feasibility study. Increased revenue from the county’s hotel room rental taxes will be used to seek proposals from consultants to complete the study in the near future. Those involved with the potential project estimate that the privately owned center would have between 100,000 to 200,000 square feet of usable space and would be capable of hosting large scale conventions and conferences.

Both Stoffa and Callahan emphasized that the Lehigh Valley is capable of becoming a place where large conventions with a high volume of attendees are held. In a location otherwise able to do so, the largest hurdle to accomplishing that goal is that the Lehigh Valley does not currently possess a convention facility to handle them. The increase in hotel rooms added in the area over the last 5 years (650 rooms) seems to suggest that a growing number of people are coming into the Lehigh Valley for business related trips according to the executives. Callahan went even further and argued that this speaks to the demand for a convention center. Others involved in the press conference agreed and expressed the opinion that Lehigh Valley has lost revenue over the last eight (8) years because it lacked a convention and expo facility.

The Redevelopment Authority is seeking responses to their requests for proposals by December 13th and hopes to have the study completed by the end of the first quarter of 2013. If the study is successful and it is determined that the project can be built, there could be design plans underway shortly thereafter and the start of construction before the end of next year.

This is a potentially large project which could put a good number of construction companies back to work. Those involved in large commercial construction should be keeping an eye on this project as it develops.