Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More parking planned for the Five Points

Bethlehem officials are negotiating the sale of a 22-spot parking lot and garage near Five Points, providing a haven for the vehicles that are expected to be attracted by a new retail district planned to emerge there.

Mayor John Callahan said the parking was needed to help restore the storefronts of the 400 block of Wyandotte Street, once known as Palace Row, to their original grandeur.

''A key component of introducing retail and commercial is parking, and there is a significant parking deficit in that area,'' Callahan said. ''We need to address that, and we're working on it.''

A dozen property owners near that garage participated in a block-long face-lift of its Victorian-era architecture last year. In the late 1800s, the block was known as Palace Row for its posh shops catering to the wealthy who lived in nearby Fountain Hill. In recent years, the block has been punctuated by boarded-up windows and chipped woodwork.

The city provided grants and low-interest loans to the building owners, under the condition they keep or restore storefronts to commercial use. The city also coordinated a temporary relocation of overhead power lines to make restorations possible.

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