Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Allentown's Arts Park nearly complete

Damien Brown over at the Our West End Neighborhood blog reports:

The Allentown Arts Park near 5th & Linden Streets has finally taken its form and is nearly complete. The long awaited center piece of the Allentown Arts District has all of it's major components in place with little more to than cross the Ts and dot the Is.

The Allentown Arts District targeted revitalization area in the Downtown's eastern end currently receiving several infrastructure improvements intended to help leverage the value of several unique arts and cultural institutions within the area bounded by 4th, 7th, Linden, and Walnut Streets. Among these improvements are the Arts Park, the Arts Walk, and parking improvements in the area.

The Arts Park sits directly behind Symphony Hall, directly north of the Baum School of Art, and right across the street from the Allentown Art Museum. The park will serve as a green oasis linking these institutions while functioning as a gathering point for small concerts, art exhibitions, and lunch gatherings for downtown workers. Among the parks many features is a summer fountain, a large lawn, bright decorative lighting, and a new mural located on the rear wall of Symphony Hall.

Within the next few years the Allentown Art Museum and the Lehigh County Courthouse will be expanding, consuming much of the existing open space in the neighborhood. Also, directly to the south along Hamilton St, a four-story office building is planned that will be designed to link into the park. This park will prove to be of further importance to the eastern section of Downtown Allentown when these other projects come to fruition.

In anticipation of these other downtown improvements, two large parking garages are under construction. The first to open will be the new five-story garage at 6th & Linden. This garage will have a limited amount of retail space on the ground floor and will serve as a transfer point for all Lanta buses. This will remove all of the transfer points along Hamilton St, ridding Hamilton of that "waitin' for the bus" look. This garage may also serve regional and national bus lines in the future that currently operate out of 3rd & Hamilton. The upper floors will serve downtown workers and visitors to institutions and events in the Arts District. The second, and larger, garage at 4th & Hamilton will serve city and county employees with extra capacity intended to serve new Downtown development.

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