Neighbors of former Croc Rock file appeal to stop City Center development

ALLENTOWN — The owners of a Hamilton Street office building next to the former Crocodile Rock Cafe have filed an appeal to stop a development proposed for the Allentown site.

Commonwealth Realty Company LP owns the Commonwealth Building, a property at 501-518 Hamilton St. that shares a wall with Croc Rock. Demolition is underway at the 520 Hamilton site, which for many years housed the nightclub and concert venue, to make way for an apartment building proposed by new owner City Center Investment Corp.

The appeal, filed this month by attorney Joel Wiener, does not ask for demolition to be halted, but objects to the approval granted for the project by the Allentown Planning Commission. The commission voted 6-0 in favor of City Center’s plans for the property in early August.

The development would “adversely” affect the Commonwealth building, according to the filing.

According to the appeal, the Planning Commission made multiple mistakes, including:

  • Granting approval for a design that did not match the plans the developer submitted, and allowing City Center to modify the plans at the August meeting
  • Failing to get plans reviewed by the city engineer, planning director and others as required by city ordinance
  • Failing to address subsoil and “other structural matters” in the area of the shared wall between Croc Rock and the Commonwealth Building
  • Allowing the development without sufficient parking and in spite of “material violations of the zoning ordinance.”

The land development appeal asks for the planners’ decision to be thrown out or for an order to be issued reversing the board’s decision.

City Center has proposed a six-story mixed-use building at 520 Hamilton St. with office space on the first floor and 69 apartments upstairs. Demolition on the site began last week. The building is expected to be ready for occupants late in 2018. City Center paid $1.6 million for the property.

City Center representatives said this month that the appeal would have no impact on demolition of the property.

“We have secured all of the necessary city approvals to build on the site, so we are continuing to follow our construction timeline,” said Robert DiLorenzo, a project manager for City Center. “We have strong demand for apartments and plan to stick to our schedule of opening 520 Hamilton in the fall of 2018.”

Oldrich Foucek, chairman of the Planning Commission, said he could not comment on the pending case.

Twitter @emilyopilo


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