Source: lehighvalleylive.com, Lynn Olanoff
Thursday, 25th Aug, 2011
It’s been almost four years since officials announced a plan to develop the former Farr’s building in Bethlehem.
But a project partner said this week that the Irish pub and 24 apartments are expected to open within a year on the corner of Broad and New streets.
Pektor also said there is a new partnership behind the project. Pektor’s father’s company, Ashley Development Corp., had been behind the project since 2007, but Lisa Pektor said her father, Lou, is no longer involved. The project now has four partners: Lisa Pektor; her sister, Amy Pektor; Anthony Scarcia, of Bethlehem-based Allied Building Corp.; and a fourth, anonymous investor, Lisa Pektor said.
Pektor said she expects construction to start shortly, with occupancy within a year or less. The company still has Erie, Pa.,-based Irish pub chain Molly Brannigans as the first-floor tenant with 24 apartments planned for the upper three-and-a-half floors, Pektor said. The apartments will primarily be one-bedroom with a couple of two-bedroom apartments, she said.
Bethlehem officials in September 2007 announced Molly Brannigans’ intention to open a restaurant at the location. The chain also has locations in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.
“They’ve been great to work with and supportive of the project since day one,” Pektor said. “It’s the spot where they want to be in Bethlehem.”
Molly Brannigans CEO Colm McWilliams confirmed his company’s continued interest in the property this week. “This is still very much the case,” he said in an e-mail.
McWilliams said he’s been told general building construction is expected to start soon but that he doesn’t yet know when his company will be able to get in to outfit the restaurant.
The partnership has to work out a sewer service issue with the city and then it will be ready to start construction, Pektor said. The city planning commission approved the company’s plans in November, but the company has yet to seek any building permits, said Joe Kelly, Bethlehem’s community and economic development director.
Plans are moving forward to open a Molly Brannigans restaurant in the former Farr’s building. Mayor John Callahan and Molly Brannigans co-founder John Melody announced the project in 2007.
City and business officials support the project. Mayor John Callahan has called the project an extension of West Broad Street’s restaurant row. In recent years, other new restaurants have opened in the area, including The Melting Pot and Plaza Bistro. Another new restaurant called Istanbul Grill is expected to open soon on the block.
“It’s huge,” Downtown Bethlehem Association Manager Samantha Schwartz said of Molly Brannigans’ expected opening. “That’ll be really good in that area.”
Scarcia’s Allied Building Corp. has previously worked with the Pektor family. His company performed the renovation work on the former AlphaGraphics building Ashley Development Corp. had owned. Allied had sued Ashley over unpaid bills for work on the building, but later settled those bills by buying the building. Allied last year moved its corporate office into the building on the corner of Broad and Main streets, which houses the clothing store Sophistikate.
Scarcia said he joined the project to take part in another opportunity to bring another Center City building back to life.
“The building has great opportunity, and great bones,” he said.
Ashley had financial trouble with the Farr’s building. The building nearly went up for tax sale in September 2009, but Ashley paid off about $43,000 in back taxes on the building before the sale took place.