Project redevelops former blighted, brownfield silk mill site
EASTON, PA – September 24, 2020 – PIRHL Developers, LLC today broke ground on construction of The Mill at Easton workforce housing project on the city’s South Side. The 71,000 sq. ft., 55-unit development is being constructed on a remediated, blighted, brownfield property located across the street from the newly built Cheston Elementary School.
Located at 620 Coal St., the site was once home to a silk mill, followed by a stainless-steel fabricator, which went out of business more than 20 years ago. The property fell into disrepair over the years and, due to its central location in a residential community, it was placed on the city’s priority list for redevelopment.
Now it will become two three-story buildings with 11 one-bedroom, 30 two-bedroom, and 14 three-bedroom units. Each unit will include energy efficient appliances, central air conditioning, pantry, and a washer and dryer; select units will have balconies. Building A, the larger of the two buildings, will be serviced by an elevator and will have a community room with kitchenette. The property will feature social and community support services provided by The Easton Area Neighborhood Center, Fulton Bank, Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley, and Project of Easton.
“This project will transform a blighted property into a new, attainable housing development that will have a positive impact on this beautiful neighborhood,” said City of Easton Mayor Sal Panto, Jr.
Lara Schwager, Vice President of Development for PIRHL who serves as the developer and general contractor on the project states, “This project is the epitome of a true public-private partnership; the universal support behind this project as well as the close involvement of local stakeholders is a shining example of what is possible through public-private partnerships. The work involved to get to a groundbreaking was a herculean effort that began 3 years ago. To be able to transform a long-standing, blighted piece of property into what it will become, is truly something to celebrate, and PIRHL is proud to be a part of it.”
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency awarded the project 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which generated $12.2 million in private equity. PHFA also provided $1 million in funds from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement program. The project also received a $2 million Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant, and more than $1 million in assessment and remediation funds from the PA Industrial Site Reuse Program. The Northampton County Department of Community and Economic Development provided $25,000 in funding from the Affordable Housing Program.
Environmental consulting firms BrightFields, Inc. and Moonstone Environmental conducted preliminary testing, developed a remediation plan that was approved by the PA Department of Environmental Protection, and managed noise and dust during demolition to minimize impact on the neighborhood. HDR, Inc. monitored the environmental cleanup work at the site to ensure it followed the DEP-approved plan.
Robin L. Wiessmann, Executive Director and CEO of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, was unable to attend the event, but sent her remarks: “The value of affordable housing has never been clearer than it is now. People’s lives are hanging in the balance because they’ve lost work and they’re worried about losing their housing, too. For far too many, the monthly rent consumes too much of their income, leaving them vulnerable when economic hardship occurs. Plus, during a health crisis, when people are supposed to shelter-in-place, how is that possible when they are in danger of becoming homeless? This is why housing like The Mill at Easton is so very important.”
Weismann continues, “Incorporating Smart Growth design, the construction will allow for the redesigning of this lot that will reconnect the new residential community to the larger neighborhood for the first time in decades. Incorporating energy efficient, Zero Energy Ready Home standards, the development itself will feature a food pantry distribution area for tenants along with several community rooms. These are all wonderful features that will make this development special for the residents and an asset to the community.”
The Mill at Easton has been developed in partnership with PIRHL Developers, LLC, Stewart Silk Mill Redevelopment Partners, and Easton Area Neighborhood Center.
Information Provided By:
City of Easton Media Contact:
Tracey Werner, Marketing Consultant